“The WTO mandate constitutes an important tool for achieving balanced international cooperation in promoting development and poverty reduction across the globe.”
These were the words of Pascal Lamy, Director General of the WTO, while speaking at the New Delhi Conference on Global Partnership for Development organised by CUTS and FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry) on 12 and 13 August 2008. Lamy also stressed the importance of marrying trade openness with appropriate domestic policies. He congratulated CUTS on its 25th anniversary, which coincided with this landmark Conference, and stressed that the world needs organisations like CUTS to bridge differences across the globe and build a real global partnership for development.
This Conference was held to review progress on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed to at the United Nations in 2000. Many of the important names which figure in the global discourse on trade, development and poverty reduction participated: besides Mr. Lamy top practitioners and administrators like the UNCTAD Secretary General Supachai Panitchpakdi; India’s Commerce & Industry Minister Kamal Nath; the Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat Ransford Smith; and noted academicians such as T. N. Srinivasan from Yale University, Alan Winters from Sussex University.
Earlier, welcoming the delegates on this momentous occasion, CUTS Secretary General, Pradeep S. Mehta emphasised the historic timing of this occasion – the first meeting to address multilateral trade and development issues after the collapse of the WTO mini-ministerial meeting in Geneva. He urged the delegates present to move beyond the oft repeated rhetoric of the Global Partnership for Development and suggest ways and means to evolve a partnership for development which has a real and tangible impact on the state of development in countries across the globe.
Kamal Nath made a stirring speech at the Inaugural Session in which he underlined the importance of having development as the bottom line of global trade talks and developing a new mindset and attitude to break the current deadlock in trade negotiations. Equity, he opined, was an important but missing ingredient in the current architecture of trade integration – a flaw that needed to be corrected with the utmost urgency. In a statement, which will perhaps be repeated very often in the future as a mantra, he said, “Global trade talks should not be about the survival of the fittest, but the revival of the weakest, and about reducing poverty, not increasing wealth.”
Other speakers in the Inaugural Session called upon developed countries to meet their commitments to provide aid to developing countries, as expressed in the MDGs.
Later sessions on the first day focussed on prickly issues such as the marshalling of adequate aid to facilitate the trade readiness of countries and ways and means of making domestic services regulation more supportive of trade in both goods and services, especially in developed countries. The second day saw equally rich fare with crucial issues such as the mainstreaming of development in the World Trade Organisation and the future of the global trading system featuring prominently on the agenda.
The deliberations on both days were very fruitful and delegates from different corners of the globe and varying mindsets and backgrounds participated in a constructive fashion, with many new ideas coming to the fore. A detailed report of the deliberations will be available soon on the CUTS website, www.cuts-international.org.
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