Developing countries to have greater say in world trade

Indian Express, Lucknow, December 20, 2006

By Deepak Pandey

“The North world has lost its grip. With growing economic and political power of India and China in the world, the monopoly of a few developed countries has ended.” This was stated by Valter Angell, senior researcher, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs while talking to Newsline on Tuesday. Valter was here to participate in a seminar on “Globalization and India: Voices from the Ground”, organized by two NGOs, NEED (Network of Entrepreneurship & Economic Development) and CUTS-International at Taj Residency.

“No real concessions were given to the developing countries till very recently. The World Trade Organization (WTO) didn’t address the grievances of farmers and labours. Each of their decision was biased and favourable to their countries”, said Valter. “But the scene has changed now. WTO’s 2006 report clearly highlights the role of developing countries in the world trade and much would depend on the next round at WTO.”

He said as the value addition and productivity in agriculture was very low, farmers were selling their land and switching to other businesses. Supporting liberalization, he said gains for consumers were larger than the losses for the producers.

Around 100 people from different NGOs, corporate sector and the media, participated in the two-day seminar that concluded here today. The speakers showed concern over anti-poor policies implemented by the world organizations. “Why are people not included in the debates on the issues that directly affect them”, said Anil Singh, Chief Executive NEED. “Farmers have been deprived of the possibility of trades. Our programmes at the grassroot level have proved to be useful and efficient for bringing about sustainable changes to support national causes”, he added.

Pro-poor projects like Grassroots Reachout & Networking in India on Trade and Economics (GRANITE) and linkages between Trade, Development and Poverty (TDP), implemented by CUTS International, were discussed widely in the seminar and a future roadmap was also drawn. “We need to identify the issues common to all states… our strategies should be more scientific and quantitative and a qualitative analysis is also required”, said Bipul Chaterjee, Director, CUTS.

“Trade policy affects poverty through its effects on economic growth and equitable income distribution. A pro-poor growth policy has greater impact in reducing poverty, than growth, per se”, he added.

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