Published to the Web: Wednesday 8 January 2003 @ 3.14pm CET
MONITORING THE WEB On International Trade & LDCs
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Here, you can find the latest critiques, and analyses of developments in International Trade & LDCs.
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WTO Impact List #355 | Mon-10 Feb 2003 | [UNLDC3]:
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* BANGUI Faces Agricultural Problems Says UN's FAO;
* LAMY Claims Aid &Trade Linked;
* Why Can't AFRICA Feed Itself?
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List of contents:
1) WHY CAN'T AFRICA FEED ITSELF?
2) EU's PASCAL LAMY DEFENDS TRADE & AID POLICY (D)
3) LDC BANGLADESH OBTAINS TARIFF CONCESSIONS FROM INDIA
4) FAO CONCERNED ABOUT LACK OF CROP SEEDS
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Dear WTO Impact Lister,

Smack bang at the heart of international development is the very sensitive issue of Africa. It's hard to talk about that continent without associating corruption, trade, and agriculture with it. More and more Africans, thankfully, are being made aware of the plight of the continent, but serious solutions are still alcking--or perhaps the solutions are elusive--depends on whether you see a cup half-full, or half-empty.

That said, half-empty words are also often associated with what Eu Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy says. Make that empty. The only time he probably comes clean is when he needs to defend the EU policy on trade (article n#2) as he was doing Monday in Brussels. What he is doing constructively other than serving more cold dishes of lip-service remains to be seen.

And it needs to be seen--if article 4 is anything to go by, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation has just announced that in the Central African country of Bangui, crop seeds are seriously lacking.

So, *can* Africa feed itself? Maybe if theory and reality were matched more often--both in the North *and* the South so as to lead to a climate conducive to *true* collaboration, with greater assistance from UN agencies, then maybe -- just maybe --Africa would make its map more distinct in the global economy, and in development.

Sober reading! Emmanuel

[Posted: Wednesday 12/2/03 @ 12.33pm CET]


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WTO Impact List #350 | Mon-3 Feb 2003 | [UNLDC3]:  =====================================================
* Non-Aligned Movement Prepares for February Summit;
* EU Pledges 77 Billion Dollars to Africa.
* African Union (AU) Summit Opens in Ethiopia;
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List of contents:
1) AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT OPENS IN ETHIOPIA (D) 
2) EU PLEDGES 77 BILLION DOLLARS TO AFRICAN COUNTRIES (D)
3) NAM PREPARES FOR CHALLENGE OF UNCERTAIN WORLD
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Dear WTO Impact Lister,
 
In Monday's articles, we brought you, primarily,  the latest developments on the African continent.
 
In a particularly auspicious move, the African Union, which replaced the moribund Organisation of African Union (OAU), in July 2002, opened Monday. The discussions on the table were predominantly focussed on making amendments to the new constitution of the AU, which also includes Africa's own Peace & Security Council--distinct from the UN's whose antiquated constellation of the Big Five that, some argue, tend to skew aspiration of world peace to the West's whims.
 
Having said that, it is important, also, for the continent to remember how important cooperation remains--despite the linguistic and religious divide--and, to that effect, Libya is on the forefront pushing for this. How successful he is in pushing for a "United States of Africa" just as UK Prime Minister of the war period Winston Churchill called for a "United States of Europe" remains to be seen. African leaders have, nonetheless, rejected this vision.
 
What now must be encouraged is commitment--both political and social if the continent is to shake itself from the ad nauseam tune of "less than a dollar a day".
 
Meanwhile the Non-Aligned movement is preparing for its summit--scheduled for 20 to 25 Feb. With 114 countries still members, it could prove to be a formidable counterweight to economic globalisation.
 
Sober reading,
Emmanuel

[Posted: Tues.4/02/03 @ 4.14pm CET]
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WTO Impact List #345 | Mon-27 Jan 2003 | [UNLDC3]:
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* Removing Barriers to Trade? Remove Barriers to Human Rights!;
* Not Again, Africa!;
* ETHIOPIA to Join WTO
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List of contents:
1) ETHIOPIA SUBMITS APPLICATION TO JOIN WTO (D)
2) AN (AFRICAN UNION) ACT TO FOLLOW
3) ALL HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL -- MESSAGE FROM WORLD SF
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Dear WTO Impact Lister,
 
Perhaps one of the more platitudinous articulations of the NGO community is the call for developed countries to stop their hypocrisy of trade by bringing down barriers for LDCs, and make more genuine and unequivocal attempts to reform their astronomical subsidies. Compare Farm Bill, OECD, EU's Common Agricultural Policy.
 
Cliched, though it may be, there are several grains of truth in those claims, but it would be more encouraging if attempts by political leaders in Africa also took apace more vigorously. Article #2, by Gamal Nkrumah, the Ghanaian-Egyptian Journalist son of the first President of the West African state of Ghana, argues that Libya has decided to take the reins of the African Union. Having been dissatisfied with the snail-like pace of the Arab League already, he is already threatening to pull LIbya out of the African Union project.
 
That said, a project is only as useful as the creator's vigour, energy, and vision. Judging from that article, Africa runs the risk of repeating the OAU-flop, and consigning a visionary project into insignificance--it does not deserve to do so. Most of Africa is, today, democratic--even Kenya, for so-long ruled by the iron-fist of Arap Moi, has become a "democracy" with the election of Kibakli. So, what is needed, as Nkrumah argues, is vision, vision, and commitment.
 
That cannot be over-emphasized. Africa needs to help make the ostensibly hackneyed articulations of the Northern NGOs into a powerful force that can make it possible for continents-- from Africa, through Asia, to the landlocked countries--to benefit from basic fundamental rights.
 
Rights, such as are elaborated on in article 3--the right to food and water above all--are such important cornerstones of humanity's commitment to see a better world.
 
TNCs do wreck lives, and neoliberalism is on the rise. Precriptions are being doled left and right to LDCs by the USA (check article 1) and the IFIs-most-notorious, but is there a possibility that man can do better by finding alternatives and criticising less?
 
Can we live up to the challenge, to the commitment?
 
More importantly, will the power of capital allow us citizens *of the world* to create a better world?
 
Sober reading
Emmanuel
[Posted: Tues.4/02/03 @ 4.12pm CET]

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WTO Impact List #340 | Mon-20 Jan 2003 | [UNLDC3]:
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*ZAMBIA Gains on Sugar from EBA Initiative;
* The Voice of the Third World;
* LDCs Win UN Praise
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List of contents:
1) POOR NATIONS ARE FIRST TO PAY UP UN DUES
2) NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT IS THE VOICE OF DEVELOPING WORLD
3) ZAMBIA TO BENEFIT FROM SUGAR EXPORTS TO EU
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Dear WTO Impact Lister,

Many a commentator on the UN has talked about how if the UN did not exist, it would have to be invented. Even if the world's only remaining superpower, the United States, perceives the UN to be anachronistic and useless (hence specious, or misleading, statements by George W Bush before Christmas that if the UN failed to act on Iraq, it would face the same fate as the doomed League of Nations which died exactly because of pussy-footing by members over aggressions by Japan over Manchuria and Germany over disarmament).
 
Developing countries would be very quick to agree with this idea, and article 1 is a case in point of how *even* LDCs -- seriously cash-strapped as they may be-- are ensuring that they are paying their UN dues.
 
The US owes that preeminent yet flawed organisation that is the UN over 800 million dollars; yet the US may be going to war with Iraq.
 
Article 2 takes us back to a vibrant time in history when the Suez Crisis of 1956 which saw Nasser nationalising the Suez Canal and, subsequently, showing two fingers to the World Bank; when Cuba became involved in the tense confrontation that brought two super-powers to the brink of nuclear war; and the time, in the early sixties, when UNCTAD was seen as a sound purveyor of arguments and research necessary for the so-called New International Economic Order, which would, theoretically and ideally, favour the Third World.
 
On a positive note, it looks like Zambia may gain on sugar from the EU's EBA initiative.
 
Sober reading,
Emmanuel
 
[Posted: Tue/21/1/03 @ 11.10am CET]
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WTO Impact List #335 | Mon-13 Jan 2003 | [UNLDC3]:
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* Dot Keet Blasts NEPAD--Trade *Not* End-All;
* Regional Agreements Could Hinder LDC Exports
* Diversification Paramount!
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List of contents:
1) SCHOLAR BLASTS NEPAD's APPROACH TO INTERNATIONAL TRADE
2) FREE TRADE TREND TO OFFSET PREFERENTIAL LDC EXPORTS
3) BANGLADESH NEEDS PRODUCT DIVERSIFICATION
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Dear WTO Impact Lister,

Monday's articles were uncharacteristically short articles that straddled
the market-access divide.

The first recounts how Scholar Dot Keet, PH.D, is arguing that Trade is
*not* the only way of ensuring that development is fostered. More
importantly, supply-side constraints need to be addressed. In short, NEPAD
is not as altruistic, or generous, as the West makes out--the devil is in
the detail, and, sadly, it's often the detail, or the technicalities, that
developing countries are short on as they don't have access to an army of
technocrats like the US or EU.

The second article perhaps betrays the author's perception of Regional
trading agreements. Whatever he may think they are--free trade areas?--one
thing that is clear is that these agreements hinder LDC exports, and he
cites Bangladesh in that particular context to hone in the point.

Still on Bangladesh, in article 3, the author argues that that country if it
is to benefit from free trade--or let's just say international trade--it
needs to diversify. Former US Secretary-of-state Henry Kissinger may have
called Bangladesh a basket case in the 1970s, but it would be difficult to
make that categorical claim these days--the country is trading with many
Asian countries these days, including India, and a lot of the ASEAN
countries, such as Thailand.

Sober reading!
Emmanuel
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[Posted: Fri 17/1/2003 @10.54am CET]

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