CUTS have been represented in all the WTO Ministerial Conferences, including the fifth WTO Ministerial Conference

Cancun, Mexico from September 10 to 14, 2003

However, unlike in the previous ministerials, this time CUTS was represented by its various centres — the Centre for International Trade, Economics & Environment (CITEE), Africa Resource Centre (ARC), Calcutta Resource Centre (CRC) and the London Resource Centre (LRC).

The first side event was on Standards and Market Access, titled “Northern Consumers-Southern Producers: The Need for an Alliance”. It was held as part of the Cancun Trade and Development Symposium, hosted by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), on September 11-12, 2003.

The session was organised in collaboration with the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Consumers Association (UK), Research Information System (RIS, India) and International Lawyers and Economists Against Poverty (ILEAP, Canada). The prime objective of organising such a session was to explore the ways and means, through which an alliance between Northern Consumers and Southern Producers could be facilitated on a sustainable basis.

At the same meeting, we released one of our recently published books, ‘Bridging the Differences – Analyses of Five Issues of the WTO Agenda’. Dr. A.C. Muthaiah, President of FICCI, released the book. This book is a product of the project, EU-India Network on Trade and Development (EINTAD), launched about a year back at Brussels. CUTS and University of Sussex are the lead partners in this project, implemented with financial support from the European Commission (EC). The CUTS-Sussex University study has been jointly edited by Prof. L. Alan Winters of the University of Sussex and Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary-General of CUTS, India.

The five issues discussed threadbare in the book are Investment, Competition Policy, Anti-dumping, Textiles & Clothing and Movement of Natural Persons. Each of these papers has been co-authored by eminent researchers from Europe and India.

The second side event was a Fringe meeting of the International Network of Civil Society Organisations on Competition (INCSOC), organised in collaboration with the Consumers Association (UK). The title of the session was “Role of civil society in promoting a healthy competition culture”.

INCSOC has been floated by several civil society organisations as a coalition to promote a healthy competition culture in the world. The concept came out of the extensive work on competition policy issues by CUTS, which conceived the idea as a result of a project on comparison of competition regimes in developing countries, popularly called the “7-Up Project”.

The third parallel event was a panel discussion on Mobility of Labour, organised in collaboration with the North-South Institute, Canada. Temporary movement of natural persons (TMNP), i.e. Mode 4 of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), is one of the major areas of our work on trade and development. At present, only a little over one percent of the total services trade come under Mode 4, whereas, in sharp contrast, Mode 3—commercial presence—accounts for more-than-half of the world trade in services.

In our EINTAD project, one of the studies undertaken was on mobility of labour, examining the case of movement of doctors from India to the UK. The study, jointly done by Christine Breining of University of Zurich (Switzerland), Rajesh Chadha of National Council of Applied Economic Research (India) and L. Alan Winters of University of Sussex (UK) observed that the neglect of TMNP as a route to market liberalisation almost certainly stems from the extreme political sensitivity of migration within developed countries, coupled with the current tendency to equate temporary mobility with migration in both popular perception and bureaucratic treatment.

Our Calcutta Resource Centre has been involved with the Farmers’ Rights project. The project is being implemented by SAWTEE, one of the partner organisations of CUTS. Under this project, a panel discussion, entitled “The TRIPs Review: A Roadmap for Protecting Farmers’ Rights” was organised on the fringes of the fifth Ministerial Conference of the WTO.

At this meet, like-minded international civil society organisations from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and North America formed an alliance, called Farmers’ Rights Advocacy Network (FRANK), to play a vital role in launching effective advocacy programmes across the globe and pressurise the agencies concerned to address the farmers’ concerns, both in letter and spirit.