Archived Articles on International Trade and Development



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Developing Countries in International Trade (December 10, 2005)

This publication of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) addresses the complex interaction between trade and development. The authors use a Trade and Development Index to analyze how serious governments are in guaranteeing a development that benefits the people, and not only transnational corporations. Only trade that leads to a steady improvement of human conditions can act as a "genuine engine of development".

Multilateralism and Regionalism: The New Interface (November 30, 2005)

With an increasing number of regional trade agreements around the globe, this report tries to clarify the complex interaction between multilateral and regional arrangements. The report encourages trade between poor countries to strengthen their role in the global market. However, to foster development, governments should spread the gains of trade more equally among their populations. (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development)

Fair Trade Rules! (October 2005)

Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are fond of calling the Doha Round the "development round." However, as this paper from the International Fair Trade Movement points out, two fundamental factors are missing from its agenda: Nations' rights to food security and sovereignty. If the next WTO Ministerial Conference is to really address development, members should promote "fair trade rules" that provide land distribution, government regulation and protection of local markets.

Bound and Tied (July 2005)

Rich countries act on behalf of transnational corporations in the World Trade Organization talks on non-agricultural market access, argues this ActionAid International report. While paying lip service to development, rich nations are trying to force poor countries to open their markets. In the past, however, rapid industrial liberalization has "often had a devastating impact on development and poverty," leaving scores of people unemployed and worsening balance of payment difficulties.

US Moves to Limit Imports from China (May 14, 2005)

Following a dramatic surge in apparel imports from China, the US has decided to reintroduce quotas on Chinese-made cotton shirts, trousers and underwear. The increase in imports occurred after the expiration of the so-called Multi-Fiber Arrangement, which set quotas on global textile trade. Many trade specialists argue that the Bush administration is trying to win support for the proposed Central American Trade Agreement (CAFTA) by setting a precedent and acting swiftly against imports that threaten textile jobs in the US. (New York Times)

The "Chinese Tsunami" that Threatens to Swamp Africa (April 25, 2005)

Southern African countries have lost tens of thousands of factory jobs in a matter of a few months, reports the Independent. After the system of global textile quotas expired at the end of 2004, foreign investors moved their production to cheap-labor China, often abandoning their African factories and leaving workers without their outstanding wages. As a result, Lesotho, where textiles account for 90 percent of export earnings, is now struggling with an unemployment rate as high as 40 percent.

US Investigates Increased Imports of Chinese Apparel (April 5, 2005)

Under intense pressure from the domestic textile lobby, the US administration is considering reimposing quotas on clothing imports from China. The announcement came after imports of certain types of textiles surged by as much as 1,500 percent following the expiration of a worldwide textile quota system at the end of 2004. By targeting clothing imports, the administration may also be trying to win more support for the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement that many lawmakers from the textile-manufacturing states in the US have viewed with suspicion. (Wall Street Journal)

Making the WTO More Supportive of Development (March 2005)

This article argues that the World Trade Organization (WTO) should stick to its core responsibility to facilitate international trade, and leave the study of trade's effect on development to specialized development organizations. The WTO could eventually adapt its rulings to the decisions of these organizations to better ensure that trade promotes development. But rich countries' dominance over WTO decisions and their unwillingness to open their agricultural markets make a development-orientated WTO unlikely in the near future. (Finance & Development)

Part of the Problem: Trade, Transnational Corporations, and Hunger (March 2005)

Advocates of free trade have long pushed for the liberalization and acceleration of the global food trade. Bodies like the World Trade Organization (WTO) treat agricultural goods like any other consumer good. But as the number of hungry people in the world grows, critics are raising questions about who benefits from liberalizing the food trade. Transnational corporations (TNCs) like Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, and Monsanto have profited tremendously from the food trade, while rural farmers and the global poor suffer the consequences. (Center Focus)

Free of Quota, China Textiles Flood the US (March 10, 2005)

In the first month after phasing out global textile quotas, Chinese imports to the United States soared by 75 percent. The figure bears some of the first evidence that China could be prepared to dominate global textile trade, leaving people jobless in other poor countries and increasing the already gaping trade imbalance with the US. (New York Times)

Can Free Trade Be Fair Trade? (February 28, 2005)

Wealthy countries like to preach free trade, yet at the same time they wish to maintain their tariff barriers against imports from poorer parts of the world. But would trade be fair if it were truly free? This New Statesman article thinks so, but fails to provide any solutions to how poor countries could turn the currently unfair structures of international trade to their benefit.

Agriculture Prices Decline, Devastating Countries that Export Single Product (February 15, 2005)

According to a new report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), real prices of most farm products have fallen and the long-term forecasts do not look encouraging. While the lower price gives many urban consumers access to a more nutritious diet, it hurts billions of people who derive their livelihoods from agriculture, especially in poor countries that depend on a single commodity. (UN News)

Environment and Trade - A Handbook (2005)

While most governments see trade as a central ingredient to development, they pay little attention to how trade interacts with the environment. This UN Environmental Programme report looks at national and international environmental agreements and how trade agreements affect the environment. To promote sustainable development, governments have to take a close look at how their trade policies influence the environment.


The Price of Free Trade (September/October, 2004)

The Multi-Fiber Agreement, an integral part of World Trade Organization's Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, starts its final "phase-out" in January 2005. Countries, which have become competitive through protective policies, must eliminate textile quotas. In a series of two articles, YaleGlobal explores the economic and social impact of liberalized textile industries in Cambodia and Bangladesh.

Developing Countries Prepare For 'Banana Battle' (October 28, 2004)

A European Union (EU) decision to impose a $290 per ton duty on imported bananas in order to create "equal market shares" fosters anger among the two main rival banana-exporting blocks, the African/Caribbean/Pacific (ACP) region and Latin America. By imposing a "banana duty" the EU wants to avoid "discriminatory market access" ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization. Ironically, the trade tariffs will hurt the banana industry in both the APC block and Latin America. (Inter Press Service)

New Trade Pacts Betray the Poorest Partners (July 10, 2004)

Bilateral trade agreements boast increased wages and economic developments for poor countries, but rarely deliver on these promises. Morocco signed an agreement with the US, thereby liberalizing trade between the two countries, but Joseph Stiglitz warns that a host of complications, especially those concerning the use of generic drugs in the fight against AIDS, will follow. (New York Times)

Really Bad Trade News Obscured by Distractingly Bad News on Other Fronts (June 10, 2004)

The UNCTAD biannual report "calls into question the entire 'globalization' or 'free market' system." This discussion, and augmentation, of the report highlights recent failures of neo-liberal economic policies by sighting increasing inequality and the devastation of independent industries in poor countries. (Transnational Institute)

Abandoning the Clinton Legacy (June 4, 2004)

"The term 'free trade' doesn't refer to 'free' trade at all." "Free trade" agreements restrict government options and often mandate how governments in poor countries should spend their revenues. As a result, they have minimized the benefits of trade by emphasizing capital investments over human rights and environmental concerns. Jonathan Tasini calls governments to "fashion an entirely different notion of what it means to engage in economic relationships between countries," in order to shift focus to important humanitarian concerns. (Tom Paine)

Asia Signs Up To 'New Silk Road' (April 26, 2004)

Twenty-three Asian countries have signed a "landmark" treaty to build a highway connecting Asia and Europe. UN officials state that this highway will contribute to regional economic integration, reduce the isolation of many landlocked Asian countries, and provide better trade links between countries in Southeast, Central and South Asia including China, Japan, Russia, and India. (BBC)

Small Coffee Brewers Try To Redefine Fair Trade (April 13, 2004)

In 2003, the amount of fair-trade coffee sold in the US almost doubled. In this article, the Christian Science Monitor explains how fair-trade coffee – beans purchased from small farmers outside the US at a much higher rate than the slumping market price – is a booming industry.

Oxfam Welcomes Restart of Trade Talks (March 26, 2004)

Oxfam demands that WTO members change the "rules of trade" so that poor countries can also reap the benefits of international trade. Oxfam stresses that, as part of these changes, rich countries must end all forms of export subsidies that cause overproduction and subsequent dumping on world markets.

Least Developed Countries Report (2004)

The UNCTAD report argues that trade liberalization has made few advances in poverty reduction. However, international trade can play a crucial role in the development of Least Developed Countries if governments in both poor and rich states undertake substantial change in the international trade system. (UNCTAD)



Kicking Away the Ladder: The "Real" History of Free Trade (December 2003)

This paper debunks the myth of free trade by reviewing the history of trade policies in rich countries. The author explores how the US, France, Japan and other countries actively used protectionist trade policies to promote and aid their infant industries. The text argues that rich countries "kick away the ladder" which led them to development while advocating free trade orthodoxy to poor countries. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

What Are the Limits of Fair Trade? (December 15, 2003)

Fair Trade has grown in popularity in recent years as an ethical consumer choice movement, contributing to a modest but real gain in the well-being of farming communities in poor countries. Yet increased "quasi fair trade labeling," which does not publish its ethical standards, erodes consumer confidence and threatens to undermine the fair trade movement. (Alternatives)

UN World Economic and Social Survey 2003 (December 9, 2003)

The United Nations' annual World Economic and Social Survey argues that trade protectionism in wealthy countries, especially policies that target agriculture and textiles from the South, present the biggest threat to the people of poorer countries. While recommending more South-South trade, the report warns that "openness and liberalization are not a panacea for poverty reduction."

South-South Collaboration Picks up Steam (November 17, 2003)

Brazil, South Africa and India increasingly collaborate in science and technology as a first step to form a new trading bloc. This article welcomes this development, arguing that poor countries should develop their own capacities of putting science to the appropriate social and economic use. (Science and Development Network)

NAFTA's Promise and Reality (November 2003)

Mexico's accession to the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) in 1994 accelerated its transition to a liberalized economy. This report argues that trade agreements can be tools of development and poverty reduction. Yet to strengthen economies, they must include adequate protection from the stress of exposure to global competition and the increased pressure on natural resources. (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

Global Trade Keeps a Billion of Children in Poverty, Says UNICEF (October 22, 2003)

UNICEF's "State of the World's Children" projects that the UN will not meet its target of reducing child poverty. Globalization has put enormous pressure on poor countries to open their markets to international trade. Cutting public spending on basic social services has increased poverty, contributing to an ever-bigger chasm between the richest and the poorest countries. (Independent)

National, International Dimensions of Trade on the Agenda in Brazil (October 20, 2003)

UNCTAD's eleventh conference in 2004 will focus on the link between the national and international dimensions of trade. Delegates will consider the connections between a country's ability to produce goods and services, and multilateral trade negotiations.

Q & A on Bolivia (October 17, 2003)

People in Bolivia mobilize en masse to oppose the government's plans of selling the continent's second-largest natural gas resources to a consortium of multinational energy companies. They worry that this new round of exporting valuable natural resources will once again benefit only a few people, instead of turning into real development. (ZNet)

A New Beginning for WTO after Cancun (October 10, 2003)

The Cancun meeting demonstrated that "free trade" creates and perpetuates intolerable inequalities. However, the meeting gave real hope to the future of fair trade as a way of achieving a sustainable trading environment. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

A Spectre Haunts the Post-Cancun World (October 6, 2003)

Since the 1980s, deregulation and liberalization of trade and capital flows undermined domestic policy efforts to support equitable and sustainable growth, says Rubens Ricupero, secretary-general of UNCTAD. He urges for debt relief and better conditions of debt repayment, to ensure that international trade and finance promote development. (Guardian)

UNCTAD Report Shows Global Slowdown Having Very Uneven Impact on Developing World (October 2, 2003)

UNCTAD's Trade and Development Report of 2003 points out that today's economic landscape resembles the conditions of the early 1980s, when many countries faced financial crises. Western governments should stop forcing poor countries to open their markets to foreign competition, and instead help them to adapt to a global climate of high economic volatility.

Coming to the Grocery-Shelf: Fair-Trade Food (September 29, 2003)

Fair-trade organizations cut out the middlemen between the producer and the consumer to ensure that farmers in Africa, South America or Asia get a fair share of the prize. Although growing, the US fair trade industry lags largely behind its European counterpart. While one fifth of all bananas sold in Switzerland come from fair trade, only 6 percent of US consumers have ever heard of fair trade products. (Christian Science Monitor)

Economic Partnership Agreements: The EU's New Trade Battleground (September 2003)

The Cotonou Agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries laid the basis for negotiations on "Economic Partnership Agreements" in trade. Yet, instead of ensuring that these agreements contribute to poverty alleviation, the EU seeks to maximize its gains. (Traidcraft)

Agricultural Trade Liberalization and Brazil's Rural Poor: Consolidating Inequality (August 2003)

Brazil started to liberalize its agriculture in the 1980s with the first structural adjustment programs, and continued this path with its integration into Mercosur and the WTO. Food First argues that liberalization could not redress the country's infamous income inequality – on the contrary, it consolidated it.

Coffee Experts Say Growers' Only Rescue Is Quality Excellence (August 22, 2003)

Market researchers advise Eastern African coffee growers to grow better-quality coffee to match competition from the world's leading producers, Brazil and Vietnam. (PanaPress)

IFC Decision Pending on Controversial Haiti Free Trade Zone (August 20, 2003)

Bretton Woods Project reports on the free trade zone project on the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The project comprises a US debt-for-development initiative and Haitians criticize their government for not having consulted the parliament before deciding on its implementation.

Double Standard on Globalization (July 30, 2003)

US companies want to relocate jobs to countries with lower wages, but at the same time lobby against allowing cheap imports, especially medicines, to flow back into the US. By cutting labor costs while keeping prices high, corporations profit at the expense of workers, consumers, and sustainable development. (Boston Globe)

New Life for Mercosur (July 28, 2003)

Six Latin American newspapers of different political ideology express views on negotiations to reinstitute and expand the Mercosur trading block, including the creation of a regional parliament that would act as a single body in trade negotiations. (World Press Review)

The Great Catfish War (July 22, 2003)

When Vietnamese farmers profitably sold catfish in US markets, the US Commerce Department slapped on a tariff and an anti-dumping suit to protect its own farmers. The Vietnamese accuse the US of hypocrisy for blocking them out of a so-called "free market." (New York Times)

Trade Protectionism in Developed Countries Exploits Vulnerable Economies (July 18, 2003)

Neo-liberal policies and conditionalities tied to development assistance prohibit poor countries from protecting their industries. However, rich countries undermine this free market theory by shielding their domestic industries from global competition. (Power and Interest News Report)

Bush Vision: A Trade-Driven Africa (July 9, 2003)

US President George W. Bush sees trade as Africa's best route to development, but critics warn that a free trade agreement would benefit the US while doing little to help the poorest Africans. (Christian Science Monitor)

The Paradox of Free Trade (July 8, 2003)

Rich countries are hypocritical to call for free trade while blocking the world's poorest farmers' products from their markets. The US, EU, and Japan will have to cut agricultural subsidies and make other concessions for the Doha round to succeed. (All Africa)

Exploding the Myth of Competitiveness (July 2, 2003)

Neo-liberal apologists justify low wages by proclaiming competitiveness as an essential component of free markets. According to author Michel Husson, "A simple way of increasing the celebrated competitiveness consists of reducing financial profits and reallocating them to wages and pensions." (ATTAC)

Foreign Investors Can Now Access Justice (July 1, 2003)

The World Bank's International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) arbitrates trade disputes between states and foreign investors. States cannot appeal the decisions made by this court, which is co-sponsored by International Chamber of Commerce and other business associations. (Daily Nation)

How to Build a Better Trade Pact with Central America (July 2003)

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace offers amendments to CAFTA (US-Central American Free Trade Agreement) necessary to ensure that the terms of trade and investment will be fair and sustainable for the struggling economies of Central America.

Poor Countries Agree in Trade Talks (June 3, 2003)

A meeting of the 49 Least Developed Countries occurred in Dakarta, Bangladesh to coincide with the G8 summit in Evian. Representatives created a charter highlighting LDCs' continuous marginalization due to economic liberalization, agricultural subsidies, and barriers to labor movement. (Reuters)

Globalization Hits a Political Speed Bump (June 1, 2003)

Political impasse on trade negotiations has slowed global economic integration. The author argues that the developing nations, who seek access to agricultural markets and life-saving medicines in the developed world, have the most to lose. (New York Times)

Time for a Caffine Fix (May 30, 2003)

Coffee companies are making fortunes off of coffee drinking trends, but bean revenue for coffee farmers is extremely low due to surplus on the world market. Fortunately, fair trade companies and socially responsible coffee drinkers bring some relief by purchasing at the cost of production. (Guardian)

Set Fair for Trading (May 24, 2003)

The town of Garstang in the UK developed a "fair trade" economy when a local Oxfam group inspired it to sell fair trade certified products and make its businesses, schools, and government socially responsible. (Guardian)

Development Policy in the New Millennium and the "Doha Development Round" (May 2003)

Kenneth W. Abbott of Northwestern University admits that trade negotiations do not fit many aspects of development. Yet, he argues, trade institutions like the WTO can still make major contributions if they integrate poor countries' concerns in trade rules and remove existing impediments to development. (Asian Development Bank)

Integrating the Least Developed Countries into the World Economy: The Current Impact of EU Preferences under Everything But Arms (April 2003)

This World Bank paper discusses the role of EU trade preferences in integrating LDCs into the world economy. It argues that the "Everything But Arms" deal, by temporarily excluding exports of rice, sugar and bananas, does not do enough to help poor countries diversify their exports.

Too Hot to Handle? The Absence of Trade Policy from PRSPs (April 2003)

Few economists or development advocates would deny that international trade plays an enormous role in any country's development strategy, yet Christian Aid finds that the World Bank and IMF's Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRPS) scarcely mention trade at all. This Christian Aid report calls on the institutions to integrate trade analyses into PRSPs.

Thinking Small (March/April 2003)

Large-scale manufacturing and farming technology from wealthy countries can do more damage than good to a populous developing economy. This author advocates the need for such states to be able to import less costly, smaller-scale and labor-intensive technologies that lower unemployment and stimulate local economies. (Orion Online)

Trade Brings Riches, but Not to Mexico's Poor (March 22, 2003)

Experts cite several factors responsible for Mexico's poverty rate, which has remained steady at 50 percent since the 1980s while population has grown sharply. "But what has become painfully clear in Mexico is that free trade -- most famously NAFTA -- has failed to lift the country out of poverty," says the Washington Post.

People Profit from Trade (March 19, 2003)

Global justice activists are beginning to highlight how global inequality, exploitation, militarism, and US economic dominance work hand in hand, melding the "anti-globalization" and anti-war movements. US President Bush hinted at those connections when he attacked critics of free trade in his nationally televised pre-war press conference. (ZNet)

Young People Leading the Way on Fairtrade (March 3, 2003)

According to a Tearfund survey in the UK and Ireland, the desire to make a difference in the lives of the poor drives young people's consumer choices. Eighty-seven per cent of young people want to see their schools and universities "go fairtrade."

New Study Explores Ways That Trade Can Maximize Development (February 5, 2003)

Kamal Malhotra, UNDP Senior Advisor on Inclusive Globalization, argues in Making Global Trade Work for People that trade liberalization and market access can contribute to development if used in specific, and not all, situations. Malhotra says the world trade regime needs to give developing countries "policy space" to develop their capacity. (United Nations Development Programme)

Trade and Labor Standards (2003)

This author argues that new trade initiatives in the US and EU to give preference to countries with higher labor standards create a strategic opportunity for smaller poor countries. By raising labor standards, poor countries could improve quality of life, fight income inequality, as well as increase access to markets in the US and Europe. (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

US Official to Discuss Trade as Africa Hopes to Talk AIDS (January 13, 2003)

US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick will travel to Africa, in President Bush's place, to pitch a proposal for a free trade agreement between the US and southern Africa, but the AIDS crisis is conspicuously absent from his agenda. "Free trade doesn't work for the dead," said Asia Russell, director of international policy of the nonprofit Health Global Access Project. (New York Times)

The Bush Plan: A Global-Scale Disappointment (January 10, 2003)

This author argues that President Bush's economic plan not only disproportionately benefits the US rich, but also reflects an unwise approach to the global economy. Instead, promoting fair trade with the developing world, and investment in poor countries' social development, would generate wealth both in the US and around the world. (Asia Times)

Free Trade Helps a Tiny African Country - With a Price (January 8, 2003)

Two years after the US launched its African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), Lesotho stands as one of the only countries to have benefited from the plan. In Lesotho, however, free trade has brought new problems, including worker abuse, prostitution, and environmental degradation. (Christian Science Monitor)



Trade Hypocrisy: The Problem with Robert Zoellick (December 20, 2002)

Kevin Watkins of Oxfam argues that US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick demonstrates outrageous hypocrisy by extolling the virtues of free trade while heavily subsidizing domestic agriculture. The US consistently pushes for trade conditions that favor US corporations, industry, and agriculture at the expense of the world's poorest people. (openDemocracy)

Much-Hyped AGOA Faulted Scheme Fails to Deliver for 20 Countries (December 16, 2002)

A provision in the African Growth and Opportunities Act, a trade package hyped by the United States as its most generous ever to the continent, requires that factories source certain inputs only from the US or within Africa. The ‘rule of origin' provision has shut out trade benefits from twenty countries that did not fully adhere to its conditions. (The Independent (Banjul))

New Accord a Boon to US Leadership in FTAA (December 11, 2002)

Chile's new bilateral free trade agreement with the United States sets a precedent that will increase US influence in the FTAA negotiations, this article argues. Chile's Treasury Minister insists that Chile did not "give in," but admits it had to accept some "rules and procedures" for intellectual property rights and financial liberalization. (Inter Press Service)

Real Cost of a Cup of Coffee (December 8, 2002)

Oxfam's emphasis on the potential for international trade to eliminate poverty "brings together an unlikely coalition of liberal lobby groups, governments and the World Bank." Oxfam promotes "fair play" in international trade, including dismantling farm subsidies in rich countries and practicing "fair trade" of commodities like coffee and bananas. (Observer)

UNCTAD Head Debunks US Zero Tariff Proposals (December 3, 2002)

The head of the UN Conference on Trade and Development blasts the US proposal to dismantle worldwide tariffs on industrial goods for hindering development. He argues that the most vulnerable countries need "special and more favorable conditions," and questions why the US targets industrial and not agricultural tariffs. (South-North Development Monitor)

Cashews and Nutty Policies in Mozambique (December 2002)

Harvard Prof. Dani Rodrik claims the failure of Mozambique's cashew industry represents a prime example of how trade liberalization does not necessarily benefit developing countries. He argues for a deeper analysis of development policy and in this instance, its impacts on rural producers and urban workers. (Project Syndicate)

FTAA, External Debt and Militarization: Three Axes of the Same Project (November 27, 2002)

Parallel to the FTAA meetings in Quito, South American experts held conferences to address growing concern that free trade, debt and structural adjustment, and militarization all contribute to increased United States power and control in the western hemisphere. (ATTAC)

Free Trade Agreements: Threads Of A Giant Continental Spider Web (November 27, 2002)

Rich and poor countries around the world are rushing to build free trade areas, convinced of the benefits of increased and liberalized trade. However, structural inequities shut out many of trade's benefits from the poor world, producing greater inequality and more entrenched poverty. (ATTAC)

Global Trade Is Against Developing Nations – Kenneth Kaunda (November 26, 2002)

Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, president of Zambia, told the Business Forum at the University of South Florida that unfair and exploitative trade relations impair African countries' ability to reduce poverty. Kaunda calls for fair trade, ethical business practices, and sensible aid conditionalities to promote equitable development in Africa. (The Post (Lusaka))

Nation's Countryside Struggling From Bad Policies, Lack Of Support (November 26, 2002)

Poverty in Mexico's rural agricultural areas has soared in the last ten years to almost seventy four percent, primarily concentrated in indigenous communities. Mexico will likely concede to removing tariffs on US agricultural goods during upcoming high level trade talks, putting Mexican farmers at an even steeper disadvantage. (The News Mexico)

Zoellick Faults World Bank on Trade Assistance (November 7, 2002)

US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick censures the World Bank for not doing enough to develop export capacity in developing countries, despite its promotion of trade liberalization. At the same time, the World Bank has published studies criticizing the US for maintaining trade barriers to poor countries' goods. (Reuters)

EU's Turn to Act on Reform (November 6, 2002)

French President Jacques Chirac pressured the EU to maintain current levels of agricultural subsidies during the EU leaders' recent meeting. Critics argue that Chirac "will stop at nothing to protect France's farmers, no matter what the cost to the EU, the developing world or the cause of trade liberalization." (Australian Financial Review)

A Street-Level Trade Debate (November 5, 2002)

The broad consensus among trade ministers at the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) meeting in Quito was that "more trade is better than less." Outside the meeting, however, indigenous peoples argued that the FTAA would thrust open the Amazon rain forest to oil and mining corporations and destroy small-scale farming. (New York Times)

Americans and Vietnamese Fighting Over Catfish (November 3, 2002)

The export of inexpensive catfish from Vietnam to the United States has spurred the US catfish industry to launch a nationalistic campaign to brand Vietnamese catfish as "dirty, even toxic, and definitely un-American." The US recently persuaded Vietnam to dismantle its trade barriers in exchange for open access to US markets. (New York Times)

Deconstructing Market Access: Whose Market, Whose Access? (November 2, 2002)

Indian activist Vandana Shiva challenges the idea that developing countries would inevitably benefit from trade access to markets in the North. Shiva argues that "free" trade often produces deepening poverty and inequality in developing countries, and she proposes a model for "fair" trade as an alternative. (ZNet)

Bad News in Europe (November 1, 2002)

The EU touts its new enlargement framework as "a step toward trade reform by putting a cap on farm subsidies." Phillip Bowring of the International Herald Tribune argues that, to the contrary, the agreements further entrench farm subsidies, representing the "biggest single threat to international economic cooperation."

APEC: A Fruitless Exercise, Again (October 30, 2002)

Developing countries at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) annual summit accuse US President Bush of "hijacking" the trade negotiations to promote his war bid in Iraq. Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo argues that shifting the focus from development to "security" fosters terrorism "by promoting hunger, disease and ignorance." (Asia Times)

War Inflates Cocoa Prices but Leaves Africans Poor (October 30, 2002)

In 1999, Ivory Coast abandoned fixed cocoa prices for farmers, which had ensured they made a decent living. Now, while chocolate makers like Hershey and local exporters make enormous profits from high cocoa prices, they pay small-scale cocoa bean farmers barely enough to survive. (New York Times)

NAFTA: A Cautionary Tale (October 24, 2002)

Before trade ministers gather in Quito for negotiations on the proposed Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, they ought to reflect on Mexico's experience with NAFTA. Contrary to the expectation that economic integration would raise living standards, Mexico now suffers from slow growth, lower wages, increased poverty, and more inequality. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

For NEPAD, Trade Would Eclipse Aid (October 18, 2002)

African finance, development and planning ministers hope to make open access to industrialized countries' markets a priority on the Doha trade round agenda. The ministers argue that free and open trade would benefit Africa even more than international aid. (Business Day (Johannesburg))

Stabilizing Rice Price a Sticky Problem (October 12, 2002)

Asia's major rice producers, including China, Vietnam, India and Pakistan, support a Thai initiative to coordinate the world's rice prices. The plummeting price of coffee, which had been stabilized under a similar agreement until 1989, has generated a sense of urgency to protect rice farmers from fluctuating markets. (Asia Times)

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, Oxfam (October 7, 2002)

Oxfam argues that protectionism in rich countries hurts developing countries and calls for open markets. However, the current coffee crisis demonstrates that trade liberalization isn't the answer for small farmers in developing countries. (Guardian)

Lifting All Boats: Why Openness Helps Curb Poverty (September, 2002)

Andrew Berg and Anne Krueger of the IMF attempt to respond to the argument that trade liberalization leads to a "race to the bottom" or a "global sweatshop economy." Unfortunately, they provide few new insights or strategies, insisting that trade openness is "a good idea" for developing countries. (Finance and Development (IMF))

Coffee Companies Under Fire as Millions Face Ruin (September 18, 2002)

Oxfam International reports that over twenty-five million coffee farmers in developing countries face severe economic hardship. Exceptionally low prices due to overproduction and corporate dominance exacerbate the conditions of already impoverished producers.

Boosting Trade Within Africa (September 1, 2002)

High tariffs, poor infrastructure, and the colonial legacy make it easier for many African countries to trade with Europe than with each other. African governments hope that fostering inter-country trade within Africa could spur industrialization, allow for economies of scale, and attract investors. (Africa Recovery)

Average Per Capita Food Consumed in the UK and Malawi, in Kilograms (August 22, 2002)

This article argues that "the way the trading system is currently run," not trade itself, is the problem. Trade could work to fight poverty if western countries "practiced what they preached" and stopped "demanding liberalization abroad" while maintaining protectionist measures at home, including subsidized industries such as agriculture. (Guardian)

UN Factsheet on Finance and Trade (August 19, 2002)

This UN fact sheet shows the last decade's steady decline in ODA, the increase of private financial flows to developing countries, and almost a doubling of the debt burden. (UN Division for Sustainable Development)

Protectionism: Africa's Perennial Headache (July 9, 2002)

Accra Mail argues, evidence has shown "that debt relief programs have not worked for poor countries," and it is now time "to find credible alternatives." The author believes the solution lies in instituting an equal trading system by "eliminating protectionist policies."

The Relative Impact of Trade Liberalization on Developing Countries (June 11, 2002)

This report argues that reversing such policies as patent and copyright laws, under TRIPS, and decreasing the amount of foreign reserve holdings, can have the same, if not greater, effect on developing nations as trade liberalization. (Center for Economic and Policy Research)

Buying and Selling: Trade Leads to Greed, Hunger (June 3, 2002)

As rich countries blame the lack of economic growth in developing countries on corruption in poor-country governments, the rich have fixed international trade rules to benefit themselves. This exemplifies the hypocrisy of the rich as well as their determination to perpetuate global inequality. (East African Standard)

How Bush Stumbled On Steel (Friday, May 17, 2002)

The Bush Administration and the US Congress are sacrificing global trade relations for political gains and reelection purposes. Steel tariffs and the farm subsidies bill prove "that what really matters in Washington…is the 2004 electoral map," despite international criticism of rising US protectionism. (Washington Post)

Economic Progress, Environmental Setback (May 1, 2002)
The "free-trade mantra on the environment" states that rising incomes trigger "citizen demands for a cleaner environment." The author argues that US Senators need look no further than Mexico to see the error of this belief, where environmental destruction has severely limited the economic benefits of trade liberalization. (Interhemispheric Resource Center)

Nations Talk Free Trade, But Protectionism Rises (May 1, 2002)

Led by free trade's most vocal proponent, the US, many countries have implemented protectionist policies to counteract the effects of a global recession. The tariff war between the US and EU sets a precedent for developing nations to follow, contradicting trade agreements that the west so vigorously argued for. (Los Angeles Times)

What's Wrong With the Oxfam Trade Campaign (April 26, 2002)

While renewing his respect for Oxfam, Walden Bello disagrees with the focus of its recent report that promotes developing countries' access to northern markets. Instead, Bello believes the WTO's haphazard and unfair liberalization policies constitute the root of global trade problems. (Focus on the Global South)

The Dumping Ground (April 22, 2002)

"The expansion of global trade following the end of the Cold War has transformed Africa into a dumping ground for what the industrialized world no longer needs or wants," argues the Washington Post. The once-thriving clothing industry in Zambia epitomizes the perils of rapid liberalization for developing countries.

Morals of the Brothel (April 15, 2002)

The US tariff on steel and the EU common agricultural policy show the western commitment to free trade "only when it means liberalizing the markets of smaller and weaker countries, not their own." (Guardian)

EU Recommends Free Trade To 77 Poor Countries (April 4, 2002)

Under the Lomé Agreement, preferential trade status allows 77 developing countries to export certain products to the EU tariff-free, while still applying tariffs on EU imports. NGOs warn that EU plans to scrap preferential status in favor of free trade "do not pay enough attention to the very different states of economic development" within the 77 countries. (Inter Press Service)

Price of Free Trade Is Famine (March 27, 2002)

Contrary to US economic policy principles, free trade does not provide the solution to famine and poverty, but rather worsens the situation of coffee-growers and maize farmers in Central America. (Los Angeles Times)

Central America Ambivalent Toward Free Trade (March 22, 2002)

Business leaders in El Salvador believe that free trade with the US can unlock the region's economic potential. However, Guatemalans, who pursued free trade in the 1980s, warn that simply raising export levels does not alleviate poverty in any tangible way, and can undermine the important agricultural sector currently protected by tariffs. (Christian Science Monitor)

Free Trade According to US (March 11, 2002)

Echoing the reaction of developing countries to the US tariff on steel, Brazilian President Cardoso claims "protectionist measures practiced by developed countries are an anachronism that shows itself to be incompatible with the values of international economic cooperation." (Americas Program)

Rigged Rules and Double Standards; Trade, Globalization, and the Fight against Poverty (March 2002)

Trade is a powerful motor for economic growth yet this Oxfam report argues that increased prosperity goes "hand in hand with mass poverty." Rules that govern world trade "are rigged in favor of the rich" and lock poor people out of trade benefits.

Globalization and Militarization (February 2002)

Foreign Policy in Focus draws attention to the preferential treatment arms trade enjoys under international trading rules. It argues that this bias over other forms of trade is undermining development and fueling armed conflict.



Muddying the Waters (December 6, 2001)

U.S. lawmakers recently passed a bill that significantly restricts Vietnamese exports of catfish, with potentially disastrous consequences for local communities. This was at the same time that Western countries were advocating free trade at the WTO meeting in Doha. (Far Eastern Economic Review)

New Cure For Battered Commodity Producers (November 23, 2001)

A World Bank-convened international task force promotes extended modern market instruments to help commodity producers in developing countries. These producers have generally suffered from fluctuating world prices and earlier efforts to help them have failed.(Gemini News)

Fairer Globalization (November 16, 2001)

According to the Washington Post, NGO pressure, and US recognition that poverty threatens its national interests, placed focus on the needs of developing countries at the Doha meeting. (Washington Post)

WTO Promises "Development Round" (November 15, 2001)

The WTO meeting in Doha concluded with a unanimous decision to hold a new round of detailed talks this January. First World representatives enthusiastically promised that these talks will benefit the developing world. But developing countries have been more wary of what further negotiations will bring. (Inter Press Service)

A Plan for the World: Trade (October 22, 2001)

Developed countries preach free trade, but rarely do they themselves practice it. Instead of ceaselessly promoting free trade as an end in itself, we need to focus on fair trade agreements that see development as the ultimate goal. (New Statesman)

The WTO and Developing Countries (October 20, 2001)

The Director-General of the World Trade Organization tells us why the belief that developing countries are not benefiting from the current system is wrong. He argues that development issues and priorities are almost universally accepted by international financial institutions like the WTO. (The Hindu)

China Braces for Impact of Membership in WTO (October 18, 2001)

China is preparing for membership in the World Trade Organization, which will result in a radical transformation of the Chinese economy. The struggling farmers are regarded as among those most threatened by the changes associated with membership.(New York Times)

'Marshall Plan' for Africa Approved by the EU (October 11, 2001)

Chairman of the European Union Guy Verhofstadt and five African presidents agree on a five-point plan, laying the basis for the New Africa Initiative (NAI). The plan aims to combat poverty and disease, and to allow Africa access to markets in the industrialized world. (Independent)

Global Economic Prospects and the Developing Countries 2002 (October, 2001)

The World Bank reports on the global economic environment and its implications for the developing countries over the next decade. This report argues for reforming the global world trade system to promote development and poverty reduction.

The Global Governance of Trade As If Development Really Mattered (October 2001)

This report presents an alternative approach to economic development. It criticizes the focus on trade as a mean for development. Instead the report emphasizes the role of domestic institutional innovations and argues that a focus on poverty reduction can enhance growth. (UNDP)

Trade, Gender and Poverty (October 2001)

Commissioned by UNDP, this paper analyzes the relationship between trade and gender inequality, as the discourse on development shifts to human well-being instead of income or consumption.

Targeting Rich-Country Protectionism (September 2001)

Preferential treatment for the least developed countries is not the way to fight rich-country protectionism against products made in poor countries, argues Jagdish Bhagwati. Instead, he calls for a Jubilee 2010 movement and the dismantling of rich-country protectionism altogether by the year 2010. (Finance and Development)

Globalization Seen a Threat to OIC Move for Islamic Common Market (August 6, 2001)

Organization of Islamic Conference called for strong unity of the Muslim community to protect the cultural, economic and political identities of the Muslims from the onslaught of the globalization. (Independent, Bangladesh)

HIPC's Take Priority: Annan (July 16, 2001)

Kofi Annan has called for the launch of new trade negotiations that prioritize the needs of developing countries. However, by liberalizing trade barriers may disappoint some member states, especially in case of Africa, where liberalization and massive injection of foreign direct investment have caused economic misery. (News 24)

FTAA "Draft" Text Made Public Today Is Missing Vital Information; Has Been Released Too Late (July 3, 2001)

The Public Citizen assails government officials for delaying the release of a negotiating text of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and presenting only a fraction of the entire pact.

Restrictions Cost World's Poor Billions a Year (May 16, 2001)

According to a new Oxfam report, trade restrictions imposed by rich countries are costing the world's poorest US$ 2.5 billion a year in lost foreign exchange earnings. (Asia Times)

Towards a 'Free Trade Area of the Americas' - Chasing the Holy Grail of Free Trade (April 2001)

In this Monde Diplomatique analysis of the FTAA agreement, Dorval Brunelle argues that removing trade barriers makes the strong even stronger, and drives weaker countries further into dependence.

It's Not About "Free Trade" (April 18, 2001)

Mark Weisbrot argues that the "Free Trade Area of the Americas" is not about "free trade." In fact, the agreement expand protections for foreign investors, giving them rights to sue governments for regulations that infringe on their potential profits. (Z Magazine)

Labour Warns Against Over-Excitement in Trade Liberalisation (August 22, 2000)

A seminar hosted by a Nigerian trade union concluded that globalization does not uniformly benefit everyone. Its case in point was the liberalization of the textile trade in the West African country in 1997 which was advocated by the WTO. (Nigeria Guardian)

The FTAA and the Threat to Social Programs, Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice in Canada and the Americas (February 2001)

Maude Barlow argues that the FTAA agreement will give transnational corporations unprecedented rights to challenge the governments' ability to provide health care, education, and social security. (ATTAC)

Fair Trade - Small Change, Big Difference (April 2000)

Author David Ransom of the New Internationalist goes for the jugular of consumer capitalism as he looks at the impact of the free trade on modern society.

UN: Concerns About Effects of Trade Liberalisation (December 6, 1999)

This Inter Press Service article, citing numerous examples, warns countries negotiating with multilateral lending institutions, to take note of the negative effects of structural adjustment measures and the liberalisation of trade on cultural and social rights.

The Passion for Free Markets (December, 1999)

Noam Chomsky argues that skepticism over the global benefits of recent free trade mania are valid enough, "but they are a footnote to the real story: how U.S. corporations came to be so well-placed to take over international markets, inspiring the current celebration of "American values." (Z Magazine)

71 Nations Look to Block Free Trade (November 1999)

Former colonies voice concerns over the impact of the globalization of free trade on their respective development. (Philadelphia Inquirer)