September 9, 2003
RICH-POOR TENSIONS BUILD FOR 'BATTLE OF CANCUN'
can be "decisive" for world trade but only if "tough
compromises" are made.
Prospects for agriculture--the "most important and
intractable" issue--are "gloomy."
Critics suggest U.S.-EU preparatory talks "show consideration"
only for First World needs.
the deal on generic drugs was a "welcome concession," critics dismiss
it as "hype."
Cancun will be the 'moment of truth' for free
Doha round's 'last chance'-- Indian, Brazilian and South African dailies
advocated taking an "aggressive posture" on Doha's "unfinished
business." If Cancun does not
"mark a mid-course correction in the Doha round," warned India's
centrist Hindu, the completion of WTO talks by January 2005 "will
be very much in doubt." Doubts
prevail about concrete results, so the "best outcome" that is
possible, said Johannesburg's balanced Business Day, would be "an
agreement to continue the dialogue."
Agriculture to dominate negotiations, but prospects for a
fair deal 'do not look good'-- Commentators worldwide have low expectations
for progress on agriculture, with leftist dailies sounding the alarm that
developing countries are about to be "sold down the river
again." A centrist German paper
urged industrialized nations to "keep their promise" of fair trading
conditions, but Brazil's center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo predicted
that "the most important groups" will arrive in Cancun "without
any willingness for an accord to reform agricultural trade." Even stalwart believers that trade
liberalization is a "win-win game for all" insisted, as did Britain's
conservative Times, that "nothing will be achieved unless the U.S.
and EU make a serious start on slashing their domestic farm subsidies, cutting
barriers to agricultural imports and phasing out...the indefensible export
U.S.-EU preparing the ground, but 'ruthlessly
single-minded'-- At first glance, the U.S.
and EU appeared to be "making progress" in the future of world trade
during their preparatory talks, but skeptics found the "behind-closed
doors" dealings a "perfidious" approach that excluded developing
countries. A South African writer chided
the economic powerhouses for "acting ruthlessly" to advance their
"own narrow interests."
Echoing the typical resentment, Pakistan's independent Nation
announced that "the two biggest economic blocs are at it again, holding
the world economy hostage by making a secret...pact to serve their own
TRIPS drug compromise: 'good start' or 'hype'?-- Although the agreement on generic drugs was
"not perfect," African dailies considered it an "encouraging
development" with "far-reaching positive implications" for the
region. The government-owned New
Nigerian emphasized that by its "spectacular" decision to stop
"stonewalling negotiations" at the WTO, Washington was facilitating a
deal that would enable poor countries to "import cheap copies" of
drug for "killer diseases."
Though the accord was a "welcome concession," skeptics
downplayed it as a "sideshow," since in the run-up to Cancun
"the tiniest of agreements are surrounded by hype."
This report is based on 53 reports from 24 countries, August 14-Septemer
9. Editorial excerpts from each country
are listed from the most recent date.
"Snow Falling In China"
The left-of-center Guardian editorialized
(9/5): "In search of a scapegoat
for an American economic revival that was promised but not yet materialized,
the Bush administration has alighted upon China's success as the reason for its
failure.... Unfair competition is the
refrain from Washington.... [Treasury
Secretary] John Snow swung into Beijing this week determined to change Chinese
policy, most notably on exchange rates....
China's accession to the World Trade Organization means the next four
years will see big changes in the country's economy--many of them will be
painful and harder to bear if the U.S. treats China as more foe than
friend.... China's trade has benefited
America in many ways.... The truth is
that trade imposes costs and generates benefits for all. All that Mr. Bush's rhetoric exposes is that
in an interdependent world no nation, not even America, can exist in splendid
The independent pro-business Financial Times editorialized
(8/29): "Most people would applaud
measures to keep down the price of medicines for the poor. The accord presented yesterday to the ruling
general council of the WTO promises to do just that. However, in the run-up to the WTO ministerial
meeting at Cancun next month, the tiniest of agreements are surrounded by
hype.... Yesterday’s accord was
originally on the table last December but was blocked by the U.S., which feared
the consequences for its pharmaceuticals industry.... Agreement now, albeit months behind schedule,
is a welcome concession from the U.S.
But this deal is a sideshow....
Cheap medicine is less important that the health system that administers
it. The most heavily politicized drugs
of all, retroviral medicines that fight HIV/AIDS, remain more expensive and
less effective than the humble condom.
With or without the enforcement of patents, drug companies have no
incentive to develop medicine for those who cannot afford to pay. This deal will not change that; and the
international community should be exploring new ways to pay for the development
of drugs for diseases of the poor. But
this is beyond the remit of the WTO."
An editorial in the conservative Times
stated on (8/27): “Snail-racing has never quite caught on as a spectator sport,
and global trade negotiations are their political equivalent.... Since nothing is agreed until all the World
Trade Organisation’s member states reach consensus on the whole, they drag on
for years. Yet over the past 50 years, no other international process has done
more to generate prosperity for millions and broaden their horizons of
opportunity and choice.... The verdict
is decisive: a liberal trading regime is a win-win game for all
players.... At Cancun, nothing will be
achieved unless the United States and EU make a serious start on slashing their
domestic farm subsidies, cutting barriers to agricultural imports and phasing
out - which the EU, unlike the U.S., refuses to contemplate - the indefensible
export subsidies used to dump farm surpluses on world markets at prices below
production costs.... A deal could,
however, be scuppered by the emergence of a new alliance within the WTO of four
big countries, China, Brazil, India and South Africa...these four insist that
even if the US and EU stop subsidising their farm exports, they must be allowed
to protect their own farmers behind high tariff walls.... Before joining the WTO two years ago, China
went through a crash course in the virtues of free trade, but it still has much
to learn. India is not the best teacher, nor is Brazil.... Beijing could exert real leverage in these
negotiations; but only if it considers more carefully where its true interest
"Kicking The Subsidies: Third World Farmers Need A Fair
The leftist Guardian editorialized
(8/18): "Developing countries are
about to be sold down the river again and hardly anyone seems to care enough to
do anything about it. It is now only a
few weeks before the crucial World Trade Organization (WTO) trade talks open in
Cancun, Mexico.... The risk of a walk-out by developing countries grows
daily.... A joint commitment to cap the
amount of direct payments to farmers to 5% of output sounds good. But it ignores the fact that there has been a
parallel explosion of payments linked to other factors such as land ownership or
past production levels. This merely
preserves the featherbedding in a form less under the control of the
WTO.... There is only one way to deal
with this. Make it simple and
effective. Abolish all agricultural
subsidies so that every proposed reform doesn't generate new escape routes that
negate its primary purpose."
"Globalization For The Poor"
Nikolaus Piper noted in an editorial in
center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (9/8): "The liberalization of agricultural
trade is the most important contribution to the development of the Third World
that the industrialized countries can make today. No development assistance will be able to
achieve the things that prospering markets are able to achieve. Liberalization also helps the industrialized
countries, but it requires major adaptations.
It is clear that Europe's farmers will feel the effects of a further
opening of markets.... It is not
understandable that globalization critics in Germany and France are mainly
opposed to a free trade with agricultural products. This policy is directed against the interests
of the Third World. But the cause of
free trade has one strategic disadvantage:
the ones who profit the most from protectionism are the ones who are
able to organize themselves better than anyone else as beneficiaries of the
international division of labor. The
first are a few, the latter are many, and the advantage of the one side lies in
the present, while the one of the others lies in the future, and cannot be
documented. But possibly Cancun will
enter the history books as a conference which succeeded in balancing this
deficit in the long run. The chances for
a globalization to the benefit of the poor have never been as good as today."
"Who Is Able To Act Freely?"
Dagmar Dehmer said in a front-page editorial in
centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (9/8): "The export subsidies and export loans
with which the EU and the United States subsidize their surpluses thus ruining
global prizes are especially controversial.
There is no trace of free trade, let alone justice. Critics are also right with their statement
that free trade is, in general, not useful for the poor. And the allegation that in the end everybody
will profit from free trade can only become a reality if such deficiencies are
corrected. But, nevertheless, there
would be no reason to be pleased at a failure of the WTO talks in Cancun. Every multilateral agreement is better than unfair
bilateral agreements between unequal negotiating partners. The developing nations would have no chance
if they acted alone.... The living
conditions of the poor, the environment, and the consumers' freedom of choice
must be kept in mind and respected. The
United Nations has the goal of halving hunger by 2015. This would also be an honorable goal for the
WTO. The path to this goal leads via
fair trading conditions for the developing nations. The industrialized nations must keep their
promise. And this can hardly be too
"Pills For Africa"
Business Financial Times
Deutschland of Hamburg (8/25) editorialized: "TRIPS, the WTO agreement
on trade aspects of intellectual property, has thus far prevented developing
nations from importing cheap drugs....
So far, the United States has always opposed softening patent rights
under the pressure from U.S. pharmaceutical industry. But two weeks before the Cancun WTO
conference, the Americans have wrestle through and accepted a compromise…. This compromise will do justice to the
position of both sides. It shows
consideration for the legitimate interests of the pharmaceutical industry,
which finances with profits from patented drugs for its future research
efforts. And, at the same time, the
poorest are not left in a lurch. With
this narrowing of differences, the chances are increasing that the WTO meeting
in Cancun will become a success. But the
United States and Europe should not think that they have now served their
purpose. The liberalization of
agricultural markets has not been completed --and in this respect the West must
"Pulling In The Same Direction"
Center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine opined (8/15): "In
one month, the meeting of the so-called Doha round will begin in Cancún. For a long time, a debacle was looming for
this conference, because the preparatory talks got bogged down. But all of a sudden these talks get going. First, there was a new proposal to cut
industrial tariffs and now the United States and the EU have presented a draft
for agricultural reform. The biggest
stumbling blocks for the Doha round have not yet been removed, and the
controversy over tariffs and agricultural subsidies will characterize the
negotiations, but two things give reason for hope: developing nations have not
rejected the proposal right away, and America and the EU are pulling in the
Ernst August Ginten editorialized in right-of-center Die Welt
of Berlin (8/15): "Despite the
narrowing of views, the path to a further liberalization of global trade is
still very long, since the discussion still has to focus on concrete figures,
and a bitter dispute cannot be ruled out.
But there is reason for hope since the EU Commission recently succeeded
in bringing about a fundamental change in the EU's agricultural policy.... But this does not eliminate the deplorable
fact that all industrialized countries still pump 300 billion dollars of
taxpayers' money in their agriculture....
The talks in Cancún deserve the label 'development round' only if this
deplorable state is eliminated as soon as possible."
"Height Of Diplomacy"
Left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau
argued (8/14): "In the preparatory stages of the Cancun meeting, something
is totally going wrong. The representatives
of developing nations and NGOs are right to criticize the way in which such
compromises between the two biggest trading blocs are negotiated in
backrooms. An enormous deficit of
transparency and democratic control is surfacing. The United States and the EU have learned
their lessons form the negotiating marathon of the Uruguay round. Only when the two were able to find an
agreement behind closed doors, a successful conclusion of the talks could be reported. Since then guidelines are agreed upon in
bilateral talks. The perfidious thing
with such an approach is that Europeans and Americans show consideration [only]
for the needs of the each other's side...and for the rest pressure will
increase to say 'yes.' These smaller
nations are fighting a losing battle against this economic power of the
industrialized nations. From the
viewpoint of the wirepullers in the North, this system is efficient. But for the majority of developing nations
this is only the height of diplomacy."
"World Trade, China And Brazil Sound The Charge"
A scene-setter in centrist, top-circulation Corriere
della Sera (9/9): “This time, there will be a novelty: developing nations
have no intention of dancing to the music of the United States and the European
Union. Brazil, India, China and South
Africa, in particular, have raised the ante over the last few weeks and have
achieved an unprecedented degree of agreement on agricultural issues. So much so that, according to commentators,
the failure or the success of the Cancun summit will depend on custom duties on
agricultural products and on the aid that rich nations provide to their
farmers.... One of the issues on the
table, U.S.-EU relations, consists for the time being a two-party agreement on
agriculture, mainly a proposal for the reduction of the distortions that
subsidies created in international trade of agricultural products. The question among the negotiators, however,
is the strength of the agreement. How
much more will USTR Robert Zoellick be able to concede during the negotiations,
given that he must deal with an agricultural lobby which is up in arms, on the
eve of an electoral year?”
"Race Against Time In Cancun"
Leading business Il Sole-24 Ore (9/9)
previews the Cancun summit as follows: “Participants in the Cancun summit will
face the anxiety of achieving a difficult success: to reconcile the need of
re-launching world trade with that of respecting national interests. Or, to say the same thing in a different way,
to reconcile long-term advantages with immediate advantages.”
"The Verhofstadt Government Explains Its Position For The Cancun
Philippe Regnier wrote in left-of-center Le
Soir (9/8): “The Belgian
Liberal-Socialist coalition is traveling to Cancun with a few Belgian
objectives.... [The Belgian delegates]
have been asked to insist on the promotion of workers’ fundamental rights in
the framework of trade agreements--although this question is not on the
agenda.... The Belgian Government stated that ‘it considers the WTO as a
crucial instrument for the realization of a fair multilateral trade system
that, by combining opening of markets with appropriate regulation, must
contribute to economic growth, to development, and to addressing the challenges
of globalization.’ For instance, Belgium
considers it important to ‘take coherent and substantial measures’ in Cancun to
help poor countries in their often painful immersion in the universe of
HUNGARY: “Progress Enhanced Or Discouraged In Cancun?”
Columbia University Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz stressed in an
op-ed in influential Hungarian business daily Vilaggazdasag (9/4):“The
real risk [of the upcoming WTO round in Cancun] is that it will not only fail
to eliminate the existing inequalities but will even create new ones.”
"Clouds Gather Before Cancun Starts"
Denis Staunton wrote in the center-left Irish
Times (9/5): “Accusations are flying
even before talks begin.... The air is
already thick with recriminations.
Developing countries accuse the rich world, led by the EU, the U.S. and
Japan, of betraying their promise to make this round of negotiations a
'development round'.... Rich countries
complain that the developing countries are making unrealistic demands that
could wreck any chance of finding common ground at Cancun.... Next week's talks will focus on 20 issues,
including industrial tariffs, access to medicines for poor countries and rules
governing foreign investment. The most
important and intractable issue is agriculture, but nothing can be agreed in
any sector without an overall agreement on an entire package.... The EU argues that it has already taken
important steps towards abolishing trade-distorting subsidies by agreeing to reform
the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)....
Developing countries are unhappy about a number of EU proposals,
however, notably an attempt to establish enforceable rules to protect foreign
"High Stakes For World Trade"
Per Nordrum commented in the newspaper-of-record
Aftenposten (9/8): “Tough
compromises are demanded if the WTO ministerial meeting in Mexico this week
shall work as a sorely needed shot in the arm for a fragile and vulnerable
world economy. What is demanded above
all is that the rich industrialized countries finally refrain from using their
power to overpower developing countries.
Developing countries said yes to the so-called Doha-round after
assurances that it really would be a ‘development round,’ discussions that took
special consideration of developing countries.
The moment of truth comes in Cancun.”
SAUDI ARABIA: "WTO
Jeddah's English-language pro-government Saudi Gazette
stated (9/2): "Many Saudi
economists agree that the Kingdom--in fact the whole Muslim World--must not
'miss the bus' again, as it did at the time of the Industrial Revolution. These economists believe that the countries
left out of the WTO will not be able to survive economically, let alone
prosper.... There is no denying that a
major factor for economic development for Saudi Arabia is to create jobs for
Saudis. But at the same time, it must be
noted that the WTO is not going to work on a 'socialist model' where everything
is decided and controlled by the state....
It must create an atmosphere that encourages local private entrepreneurs
to succeed. The SEC should make sure local
investors are also offered similar terms that are offered to foreign investors."
Open Trade Work For The Poor"
An opinion piece by Asian Development Bank
economist Douglas Brooks in the independent Philippine Daily Inquirer
held (8/26): “Increased access to, and
less competition from, developed markets would be a huge boon to most
developing economies.…To make the most of these opportunities for the poor,
developing countries need to adopt policies that promote macroeconomic
stability...or enhance labor market flexibility, competitive product markets,
transparency, a realistic exchange rate and nondiscriminatory treatment of
foreign investors.…It is important to remember that...not all trade-related
effects on poverty are necessarily positive...making social safety nets
essential to ease the transition.…A true development round of trade
liberalization, complemented by domestic reforms in developing countries, has
tremendous potential for improving hundreds of millions of lives.”
"Japan, Korea Must Save World Trade"
The independent, English language Nation
argued (9/8): “Both the United States
and the European Union, of late, have tried to lay the groundwork for the
success of the World Trade Organization, the body that maintains the current
world trading pact. Both have reached an
11th-hour agreement on a framework to cut tariffs and reduce subsidies to their
already very wealthy farm sector. While
the proposals from both blocs should be treated with caution since the details
remain vague and strong resistance for eventual changes must be ratified
separately by the U.S. Congress and by each member nation of the EU, the
framework agreed upon by Brussels and Washington is a welcome sign. Now it is important that Japan and South
Korea, both of which have highly protected and heavily subsidized farm sectors,
come out from the sidelines and commit themselves to move world trade
forward. The political leaders of both
of these nations must abandon their usual excuses about their strong farm lobbies
and have the courage to do what it takes to sustain a positive global trading
"Decision Time At Cancun"
An editorial in the centrist
Hindu (9/6): “The fifth ministerial meeting of the World Trade
Organization in Cancun is the last chance for the 146 member-countries to
impart a true development dimension to the Doha Development Agenda (DDA). If Cancun does not mark a mid-course
correction in the Doha round, the completion of the WTO talks by the scheduled
date of January 2005 will be very much in doubt. If the Doha round is to live
up to its name, then Cancun will have to see meaningful progress in three
areas. First, the WTO conference must signal that the broad interests of
developing countries - will be addressed up front in the Doha round. Secondly, the
development dimensions of trade as reflected in high tariffs on products
exported by the developing countries have to be addressed with greater
urgency. Thirdly, it is meaningless to
talk about a development agenda in the Doha round and pressure the developing
countries to agree to take on new responsibilities that are not connected to
trade. If Cancun were to see the launch
of formal talks on investment and three other new issues, it would be one more
nail in the coffin of the DDA. Unfortunately, the draft ministerial declaration
prepared for the Cancun meeting does not signal any change of direction. It is
now up to the assembly of Ministers at Cancun to decide whether they wish to
signal that the Doha round cannot further the interests of only a select group
of powerful economies.”
"What's In WTO For Us?"
An analysis in the centrist
Indian Express by Gopal Krishna Agarwal stated (9/6): “The WTO is about negotiations in
international trade. It is not a
unilateral charter of demands, it is not our wish list. In any trade
negotiations we have to proceed from the present stage keeping in mind our
long-term objectives. To accomplish our goals we should enter into strategic
alliance with developing countries with similar concerns. Our emphasis should be on translating the
spirit of the Doha declaration in order to protect the interests of these
countries. We have to protect our agriculture, retail trade and small-scale
sector from the onslaught of international manufacturers. The true benefit of
the WTO will be achieved in the services sector. We have to push for the
opening up of the services sector under Mode 3 and Mode 4. Recent attempts by developed countries to
push additional agenda items called Singapore issues...too should be resisted.
The notion that India stands to lose under the WTO regime stems from an
under-estimation of our abilities. We always talk of our glorious past; this is
an opportune time to realize it. India today is not what it was some twenty,
twenty-five years back. We should sit together, apply our minds, identify our
strengths and weaknesses and negotiate accordingly. The WTO can be a catalyst
in the process of reverse imperialism.”
"Good Economics, Poor Politics"
Manoj Pant held in pro-economic-reform the Economic
Times (9/5): "Next week at this
time the Cancun ministerial of the WTO will be in full swing.... Right or wrong, developing countries have
already tied themselves to a discussion of the Singapore issues. To now argue that investment will not be
discussed is not a smart thing to do.
However, it is also clear that the commitment is only to discuss 'the
modalities of an investment agreement....
Among the Singapore issues investment is probably one where the
developing country position is the strongest.
This should be exploited. In any
case, the opponents of the MAI (multilateral agreement on investment) make
their case very weak when they point out that developed countries have
themselves used restrictive FDI policies in the past. The basic purpose of trade and investment
agreements is to correct the mistakes of history not to perpetuate them."
"Let's Do The Cancun"
An editorial in the centrist Indian Express asserted
(9/1): “Many of the issues raised by
India and the developing world have been internalized in the thinking within
the WTO. However, there is a momentum to
trade liberalization that the developed nations have maintained and it is time
India took a pragmatic view of what benefits us and what does not. It is wrong
to imagine that trade liberalization is something India opposes and the
developed countries propose. As in the
case of trade in services and agriculture, India is today seeking greater
liberalization and reduction of trade-distorting subsidies that the EU wants in
place. Similarly, on non-tariff barriers
like linking trade to non-trade policies, it is India that is ahead of the
US. However, there are still areas where
India must move forward. It must further
reduce tariffs and promote a more trade-friendly policy regime at home.... A
dilution of the US position on pharmaceutical patents in the interests of
public health will also be welcomed.... India can afford to ease up on some
issues like trade facilitation and competition policy. But accepting an investment agreement is not
yet in India’s interest.... Our political class continues to be misled into
thinking the WTO is an unhelpful institution. Far from it, India more than most
developing economies needs such a multilateral institution to best protect its
"An IPR Agenda For India At Cancun"
Suman Sahai provided this analysis in the pro-economic-reforms Economic
Times asserted (9/1): “India needs
to understand one central truth in all its WTO negotiations and that is that
the agriculture and food sector have to be protected at all costs simply
because the livelihood of several million Indians depends on it. This will be
true at Cancun and at every subsequent ministerial meeting. At Cancun we should
take an aggressive posture on the unfinished Doha agenda and try to get a
framework for its implementation.... India should take the position that the
rights of farmers and local communities have been reiterated in other
conventions, notably the CBD and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic
Resources (ITPGR) and these must be reflected in the WTO.... It is unfortunate that India has chosen not
to support the proposal of the Africa Group...for an outright ban on patents on
all life forms.... This is a proposal very much in the interest of developing
countries. India should raise the issue
of patents on life forms at Cancun and join the other countries and civil
society groups in supporting the Africa Group’s position.... India must move aggressively at Cancun to
garner support for the commitment made...to increase the ambit of protection
offered under Article 23 of TRIPs.... The Indian strategy should aim to isolate
the U.S. with the support of the EU and strike independent deals with the other
countries involving other issues of interest to them.”
"Mind The Fine Print"
An editorial in the
pro-economic-reforms Business Standard claimed (9/1): “An agreement to make life-saving drugs
available at affordable prices to poor countries facing health
emergencies...gives a boost to the ongoing Millennium round of trade
negotiations, which will be entering a critical phase at Cancun to thrash out
other contentious issues like agricultural subsidies. The last minute roadblocks were removed after
AIDS and malaria afflicted African countries, the main beneficiaries of the
agreement, asked the rest of the world to see it through.... When the agreement
was signed they thought they had got something but the way it unraveled has
left them hugely disappointed. So a
battle remains, to ensure that rules and procedures do not defeat the purpose
of the agreement.”
"Cancun And Doha Round Prospects"
An analysis in the centrist Hindu by
Muchkund Dubey observed (8/18):
"The main task of the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade
Organization in Cancun...will be to review the progress in the Doha Round of
Multilateral Trade Negotiations launched two years ago and scheduled to be
concluded by January 1, 2005.... The Doha Round was called the Development
Round. In reality, it was a misnomer
intended to placate the developing countries in order to get their approval for
pursuing the Singapore issues.... The idea was to begin negotiations on these
issues at Cancun.... There is no evidence of progress on any of these
issues.... The developing countries attach great importance to the liberalization
of trade in agricultural products.... India is in a somewhat different position
from other developing countries in that it has an interest in seeking access in
Mode IV of service supply, that is, through the movement of skilled persons....
India's gains are likely to be... largely in market access for industrial goods
and some opening up in Mode IV supply of services.... It is extremely important
for India to continue and accelerate the process of active coalition building
at all levels before and during the Cancun Conference."
PAKISTAN: "Promulgation Of WTO Provisions"
The centrist English-language News (9/5): External auditors
of multinational companies (MNCs) have been directed and authorized to conduct
a 'statutory audit' of all business dealings conducted on the basis of
'transfer pricing'. Sources at the Ministry
of Finance disclosed that in view of the expected promulgation of the WTO
provisions regarding Export-Import (EXIM) trade in 2004, it is likely that the
net outflow of precious foreign exchange would increase substantially. This would be because the export-import
business of MNCs would get additional leverage over the normal imports of the
"Pakistan Made to 'Behave' At Last WTO Moot"
An editorial in the centrist, English-language News
(9/1): "The U.S. government used
pressure tactics at the last WTO conference in Doha in 2001 and exploited the
9/11 to silence a vocal delegation of Pakistan, making it accept the final
document against the country's interests."
"Don’t Trust US-EU In World Trade
The lead editorial in independent, English language Nation
read (8/25): “At a first glance, it
would appear the United States and the European Union are indeed making
progress together for the future of world trade. Their farm and trade ministers struck an
agreement, which was announced to the world, that would herald a new round of
successful trade talks at the World Trade Organization. But one has to be extremely cautious of this
kind of development. It seems the two
biggest economic blocs are at it again, holding the world economy hostage by
making a secret and compromising pact to serve their own ends.... The irony of
the world trade negotiations is that the U.S. is not going after the new trade
round with the same fervor that the Bush administration showed in its war
against Saddam Hussein and France and Germany in their strong and
uncompromising opposition to the war.
And then there is always the alternative track, the free-trade
agreement, a card which the developed nations play close to their chests with
great skill. A future of free trade to
look forward to? Or will it be a lost
decade for developing nations? Remember
the Trojan Horse!”
KENYA: "WTO Victory On
Independent left-of-center Nation maintained (8/29): “The deal struck yesterday by the WTO to
allow poorer nations to obtain more affordable AIDS drugs is not perfect. But the very fact that we have come that far
is testimony to the effectiveness of a campaign that finally convinced the
world that human life must be put before the profits of the pharmaceutical
industry.... We were also among the five
countries--alongside Brazil and India, the major generic drug manufacturers,
the U.S., representing the West and the pharmaceutical companies, and South
Africa--that hammered out the new accord....
No one doubts that the recent medical advances in the fight against the
pandemic and wider access to drugs present mankind with the best prospects yet
of conquering it. But there must be no
room for complacency. Even the newest
and most advanced drugs do not provide a cure.
They simply keep the effects of AIDS at bay--but with the virus still in
the body and capable of being passed.”
"A Positive Gesture"
Federal government-owned New Nigerian
stated (9/3): "Only on rare
occasions has the United States used its superpower status for purely
altruistic purposes. Two such rare
chances both came this year, surprisingly.
The first was early May this year when President George W. Bush got
Congress to give his 15-billion dollar package to fight HIV/AIDS in 12 African
countries fast-track passage.... But
perhaps more spectacular was America's decision no longer to stonewall
negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva for a
review of patent laws sought by developing countries.... Washington dropped its opposition to a deal
that would enable poor countries to import cheap copies of branded drugs for the treatment of killer diseases
like AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis."
SOUTH AFRICA: "A
Hungry Man Is an angry man"
The liberal, independent Natal Witness remarked (9/8):
"President Thabo Mbeki made a quite startling observation during his
three-day visit to Malaysia this week. Referring to next week's round of World
Trade Organisation (WTO) talks, he said: (Protesters) may act in ways that you
and I would not like -- breaking windows...but the message they are
communicating relates to us. Those are
fairly blunt words. They reveal the level of frustration, even anger, of developing
countries with the world's economic powerhouses. These are regarded as acting
ruthlessly and singlemindedly to advance their own narrow interests, callously
refusing to take on board the economic well-being of less-developed
countries.... There are many issues
underlying his comments: restrictions on access to Western markets, the
agricultural subsidies of rich countries, and patents which keep the cost of
drugs high.... At some stage, something
will have to give. And hunger is a powerful mobilising force, as our own
experience in South Africa has shown.
That is the frightening implication of Mbeki's words--they should be
seen as a warning, rather than a threat. It would be wise to pay
"Drugs For The Poor"
Afro-centric Sowetan commented (9/2): "It would be right to welcome this
weekend's agreement, which grants access to generic drugs that could boost the
capacity of poor countries to fight diseases like HIV/Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis.... Crucially though, the extent to which poor
Africa benefits from the agreement depends largely on the political will among
countries with the capacity--namely Brazil, South Africa and India--to produce
generic versions of expensive patented medicines for export purposes.... It must be remembered that the WTO's weekend
decision--while important--does not represent the significant development
beyond what was allowed in terms of the TRIPS deal.... South Africa would first have to amend local
patent protection laws, to take full advantage of the WTO agreement. Unless it does, the weekend amendments to WTO
patent regulations could only make access for poorer countries more difficult
than it already is."
Balanced Business Day remarked (9/2): "After years of debate, the WTO's 146
nations have achieved...the unanimity needed to adopt a common
position.... But while this is all good
stuff, it is a pity that it has taken until the end of last month for the issue
to be finalized.... It doesn't augur
well for next week's WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun where issues far more
complex and important to the EU and the U.S. than the plight of the world's
poorer citizens will be tackled. As has
been the case for decades, agriculture will again be the key issue on the
Cancun agenda.... At the moment, the
prospects for progress on agriculture do not look good. Already, efforts are underway to downplay
expectations for Cancun, and the best outcome that currently looks possible is
an agreement to continue the dialogue....
What that would mean, however, is that the current unfair global trading
environment...will remain until there is a deal."
"WTO Must Not Become A New Club For The Rich And Powerful"
The English-language weekly broadsheet Business
Times judged (9/5): “For far too
long, countries in Africa--as well as other developing countries
elsewhere--have been holding the short end of the stick in international trade
and, especially, in agricultural exports....
In its present from, WTO has a two-pronged approach. One is that of a forum to settle disputes
among trade rivals in an ever expanding arena of international trade..... HIV/AIDS, Malaria and TB are claiming lives
by the million each year, most of them in the developing world. Hundreds of millions more stare death in the
face over a breathtakingly short period unless and until the holders of patents
to the drugs required to avert a global disaster are more forthcoming--and
sooner than later. This is where WTO
comes in. The organization must step
into the breach anon if it is to justify and demonstrate its raison
d'etre.... What we have to guard
against, however, is the organization turning into a club for the rich and
powerful--much like so many other multilateral entities (which shall remain
unnamed here) that have tended to slide under the beck and call of the rich and
"The WTO Is Just A Capitalist With A Human
Johnson Mbwambo commented in Kishwahili, left-of
center Rai (9/4): “I would not be
wrong to predict that the Cancun meeting will offer nothing new to bring hope
to the people of the Third World. One
doesn’t have to be an astrologer to predict this. Ever since the WTO was established 17 years
ago, it has lost its initial vision and hopes that poor countries will be
treated fairly are still a distant dream.
When the WTO was established, many developing countries rushed to join,
because they had high hopes that it would help solve trade conflicts between
poor and rich countries, and that it would facilitate access of goods from the
south into the markets of the industrialized countries. But, like the other big financial
institutions--the World Bank and the IMF, the WTO is now there to serve the
interests of the rich countries, especially those of the United States of
America. Therefore, WTO meetings like
the one that will take place in Cancun have turned into a battlefield between
the U.S. and its capitalist friends on the one hand, and the poor countries on
the other hand. As usual, the winner of
such economic battles is always the United States of America. But since the major agenda in the U.S. now is
the fight against terrorism.... America
will not let our ministers come back home empty-handed. But they will have to fight very hard even
for that little bit.”
"SA Drugs Deal With WTO Noble"
The pro-government weekly Sunday Mirror
editorialized (9/7): “The Southern
African region should give a round of applause to the WTO for striking a drug
manufacturing and importation deal with South Africa. Under the deal, South Africa is set to become
a major manufacturer of pharmaceuticals for the rest of Africa. The recently signed accord will enable
African countries facing public health crises and without the capacity to
manufacture generic drugs, to import them from South Africa. This development has far-reaching positive
implications for Southern Africa. The
region is the worst hit by HIV/Aids, with South Africa itself and Botswana said
to be leading the pack in Africa. . .If South Africa were to manufacture ARVs
wholesale, its neighbors would access them relatively easily and this would go
a long way in stemming the pandemic that has already claimed millions of lives
in the region. It is encouraging that
the accord specifically indicates that manufactured drugs would be available at
accessible prices. In this regard, the
pharmaceutical deal goes beyond pure entrepreneurial considerations; it takes
on a social responsibility dimension. In
addition, most of the countries in the region have poor health delivery systems
owing to the struggling economies. They
would no longer need to travel far and wide to obtain vital but scarce
"On The Line In Cancun"
The leading Globe and Mail opined (9/9):
"The 146 trade ministers gathering in Cancun for a crucial meeting
tomorrow are playing a high-stakes poker game that may well determine whether
the world continues on the path toward greater trade liberalization or steps
back into a dark and dangerous era of protectionism.... WTO members easily
reached a consensus that farm trade barriers had to be reduced. They seemed to
understand that without an end to subsidized competition and freer access for
their farm products, which account for the bulk of their exports, poor
countries are destined to remain dependent on aid for survival. But as the
developing countries had feared, the world's wealthy producers have failed to
live up to their promises to make significant cuts in up to $300-billion (U.S.)
worth of annual farm subsidies.... The World Bank calculates that a 'good'
outcome to the Doha Round could produce annual income gains of up $520-billion
for haves and have-nots and rescue more than 140 million people from poverty
within a decade. Failure could mean a renewed focus on regional trading blocs
and bilateral deals, ending any chance of achieving a level global playing
field. With so much at stake, it's time for the poker players to end their
dangerous gamesmanship and find a reasonable compromise that will resuscitate
"WTO: The Rich Get More"
Columnist Paul Knox commented in the leading Globe
and Mail (8/27): "[I]f globalization is a win-win no-brainer, why are
international trade negotiations in such a mess? There's continued pessimism
about the chances of a comprehensive free-trade-area-of-the-Americas deal
clicking into place on schedule at the beginning of 2005. That's also the
deadline for finishing the Doha Round of negotiations under the World Trade
Organization, and Doha isn't shaping up as a slam dunk either. Sharp splits among rich and poor countries,
and those in between, will be exposed next month at a key meeting of WTO
ministers in Cancun, Mexico.... Social
activists have worked hard the past few years to challenge the notion that
globally integrated markets will necessarily bring prosperity to the poor.
Maybe they should relax. No one is working harder to discredit globalization
than the representatives of rich countries at the WTO. When you cut through the
verbiage, the message from the First World is this: globalization when it works
for us; self-interest when it doesn't."
ARGENTINA: "Bielsa Supports The Patents Law Amendment"
Gustavo Ybarra, political columnist of
daily-of-record La Nacion wrote (9/3): "At a joint meeting of three
(Argentine) Senate committees, (Argentine) Foreign Minister Rafael Bielsa
expressed 'the Government's strong wish' to witness the approval of the patents
law's amendment, which was agreed upon last year by the Duhalde administration
and the USG at the WTO. Even though the government's bid is not part of the
package of Congressional priorities asked for by the IMF, it is a clear gesture
of the Argentine Government toward the US, one of the promoters of reaching a
fast deal in order to postpone the imminent due dates of the Argentine foreign
debt with the IMF.... The initiative
implies an alignment of the patents law...with the international standards
called for by the WTO. In this sense, (the patent law's amendment) would allow
for the extension of the patent covering the manufacture procedure to the
product. It modifies procedural aspects in conflicts due to the illegal use of
An editorial in daily-of-record La Nacion
stated (8/9): "A key trade meeting
will take place in Cancun, Mexico, September 14 thru 17, where ministers of 146
WTO nations will meet. One of the key goals for Argentina is to obtain a major
reduction in farm subsidies, which is resisted by the EU, the U.S. and Japan.
To give an idea of how unreal some of these proposals are, we may point out
that the EU has launched an initiative aimed at reducing their farm subsidies
by 60%, which in practice won't go beyond 17%.... The success of the Cancun
meeting and its following steps are by no means confirmed, partly by the
resistance of industrialized countries to effectively advance the dismantling
of farm subsidies. To the extent that there are many people in this country and
in many others of similar production, who would rather postpone an agreement
than having to sign one without obtaining any concrete benefit for their
economies. Particularly if one bears in mind that, in order to change what
could now be agreed upon, they would have to wait - at least - until the
"Towards The Battle Of Cancun"
Center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo
editorialized (9/8): "If the main
delegations maintain the willingness they have shown in recent days, the
upcoming WTO Ministerial Meeting may be recalled as the Battle of Cancun.... The Europeans prefer to support the proposal
of agricultural negotiation they jointly prepared last month with the
U.S.... Although they initially
presented a more audacious proposal of agricultural reform, the Americans ended
up by joining the Europeans. Therefore,
the most important groups will arrive in Cancun without any willingness for an
accord to reform agricultural trade....
Pressure against Brazil is recognition that in addition to having a
respectable economic weight, it does not yield easily in international
negotiations.... Pascal Lamy and Robert
Zoellick have said that there are other major topics to be discussed, such as
industrial goods trade, services and investments, and that Brazil has resisted
discussing these issues. Such a refusal
may have a tactical meaning, but the GOB should be prepared to negotiate in
other areas and look for opportunities also in non-agricultural trade."
Economic columnist Celso Ming opined in
center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo (9/8): "Brazil is playing all its trump cards
in the WTO negotiations. But these
negotiations are very likely to result in what Brazil does not want, i.e., a
large friendly accord between the U.S. and Europe in regards to agriculture. Even Uruguay, a Mercosul member, is acting in
opposition to Mercosul's interests.... But it is not possible to state that the
Cancun meeting will be a failure. This
is the moment when everyone is playing poker and is not willing to show the
cards. It's time to intimidate the
adversaries in an attempt to obtain more advantages.... Only after the meeting in Cancun will the GOB
redefine its strategy in regards to the other current trade negotiations: those
of the FTAA and with the EU. So far,
Brazil is playing as if the FTAA should be irremediably gutted, according to
Formin Celso Amorim's project of a 'light FTAA.' Meanwhile the U.S. is also proposing what is
unacceptable to Mercosul: to give differentiated treatment to group of nations
within the FTAA. But nothing is
definitive so far.... The Lula da Silva
administration is running the risk of becoming isolated from the rest of the
world if it commits the insanity of disdaining trade accords that may in fact
enlarge Brazil's foreign market."
"Frightening Challenges In Cancun"
Economic columnist Jorge Okubaro commented in
independent Jornal da Tarde (9/7):
"Enormous challenges are awaiting the WTO members in
Cancun.... For two reasons, agriculture
is the central question of the promise of development that supported the
launching of the Doha Round: most of the world's poor people work in
agriculture, and most of protectionist measures adopted worldwide are related
to agricultural products.... But in
response to the developing nations' attempts to discuss this so important topic,
the rich nations have responded with indifference or truculence.... The enormous distance separating the rich
from poor nations really makes obtaining any accord in Cancun 'a frightening
challenge,' as the IRDB report says.
Prospects are really gloomy."
"Subsidies And Cynicism"
A center-left Jornal do Brasil article by
businessman Antenor Barros Leal judged (9/3): "The world will only have a
real debate about agricultural products market when there is a free circulation
of items.... The World Trade Organization
is the forum where international trade rules, questions on adoption of disloyal
policies and the existence or not of dumping procedures are discussed. There, great and small nations sit side by
side trying to reduce their differences and seek market plenitude in
international relations. It's expected
that the opportunity is not lost and mankind may in a near future enjoy the
food abundance that only market can supply. We hope the Doha summit leaves to
WTO the sole honorable mission to repair the movements of cartels and
oligopolies rather than the testimony of maintaining inconsequential favors,
thus giving this generation the full domain of freedom."
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo observed (9/2): "Despite some NGOs' criticism, the
international accord on generic medicines used in health emergencies that is
about to be formalized seems reasonable....
Although the accord is not ideal, it is reasonable when one considers
that the U.S., by looking out for the interests of its powerful pharmaceutical
sector, was threatening to block the whole negotiation. This does not mean that
the NGOs' criticism is not pertinent.
Depending on how the process will work in practice, the conditions for
exporting, that in principle seem very reasonable, may become
"Consensus On Generics Drugs Gives Hopes To Cancun"
Business-oriented Valor Economico noted (9/2): "The accord reached by the WTO members
on the possibility of a break in pharmaceutical patents to allow poor nations
to import generic drugs has given new encouragement to the organization's
ministerial meeting in Cancun. If a
consensus on this issue were not reached, it would hardly have been possible to
create a climate aimed at resolving many other impasses towards a new trade
accord by 2005."
"Subsidies In Outrageous Scale"
Center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo argued (9/1): "The U.S. and the EU do not want to
discuss agricultural protectionism in the WTO meeting in Cancun.... By spending something between $3B and $4B per
year to finance cotton crops that will be worth less than this, the U.S. is
creating a reality that unveils the contrast between the assistance President
Bush promised to some of the world's poorest nations and the calamitous effects
Washington's economic policy has on these same nations."
University of Sao Paulo Professor Marcos Sawaya opined in
center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo (8/19): "The U.S.-EU joint
proposal [re: agricultural trade] is conservative and completely empty in terms
of goals in the three areas of negotiation, in addition to being full of traps
that may thwart Brazil's ambitions of expanding exports.... The new scenario
outlined in the joint document indicates that the 5th WTO ministerial meeting,
in Cancun, will be much more difficult than we had thought. What is most
worrisome is the fact that the U.S. has quickly abandoned the liberal
intentions it showed in the beginning of the round, with USTR Robert Zoellick
becoming hostage to protectionist interests currently prevailing in
"What Is At Stake In Cancun"
Independent Jornal da Tarde economic
columnist Celso Ming observed (8/18): "The U.S.-EU agreement on
agricultural subsidies is sufficiently vague as to infuriate negotiators from
the agricultural exporting nations, such as Brazil, but not frustrating enough
to make them give up the Doha Round talks.... It is not possible to predict
what kind of accord will be reached in Cancun, or even if there will be any
accord. It is, however, possible to anticipate that if any concessions to
emerging nations are made, they will not be free."
Columnist Joao Marcio Mendonca observed in
independent Jornal da Tarde (8/17): "Facing pressure from emerging
nations (which had sympathy from the poor) to force the most highly developed
nations to make real concessions in primary products trade, the Europeans and
Americans have forgotten old differences and are getting together to stick to
their basic agricultural policies and yield the least possible. To do so, they
have put the blackmail machine in operation. The rich nations' tactic is to
align with the poorest nations so as to isolate the 15 more competitive nations
in the agricultural sector. In other words, they will open their markets to
nations that do not threaten them and maintain restrictions on nations that can
compete with them. Brazilians and its friends have only one way out: to play
hardball. And now they have a precious trump card. The so-called Peace Clause,
a mechanism created in the Uruguay Round to protect protectionist nations, will
expire at the end of the year. If it is not extended, the fight will be
terrible. The Europeans and Americans are aware of this and are already
proposing to renew it for several years more."
MEXICO: "Large Black Storm Clouds On
An editorial from left-of-center La Jornada
judged (8/22). “On the eve of the Ministerial Meeting of the WTO to be held in
Cancun...world dissatisfaction is increasing due to the anti democratic,
excluding and clandestine procedures with which rules of global economic
integration are made. Questions around the success of the meeting arise.… Lori
Wallach and Mark Ritchie –leaders of American social organizations-- say that
even when most of the WTO’s members are not satisfied with the results of the
organization, with its procedures and with the way members make decisions, the
discontent is not reflected in the meetings because of the control that a
little group of rich countries has over the organization; they do not want to
accept that the actual (economic) system has failed in developing countries.
Cancun will only offer more of the same to countries like ours.
Authoritarianism, exclusivism and not letting some poor nations participate in
the decisions of the organization are reflected in the obsession of keeping the
meeting away from careful examination and social protests.”
"The Cancun's Challenge"
An op-ed by L.A. Times editorial council member,
Salvadoran Sergio Munoz Bata charged in top national El Tiempo
(8/31): “It is unfair and immoral to go
through the world preaching free trade as the U.S., the E.U. and Japan do,
while at home they practice the wildest forms of agricultural protectionism.”
"WTO Criticizes FTA With U.S."
Federico Cuello, former Dominican Ambassador before the World
Trade Organization said in left-of-center, independent morning Hoy
(8/19): "If one looks at the
negotiations, it is clear that the U.S. is trying to keep agricultural
incentives and that it is impossible for Dominican agriculture to survive under
such conditions...those who belong to the negotiating team swear that they have
no conflict of interest between their public functions and their businesses to
ensure that they represent the national interest."
VENEZUELA: "Will Free
Trade Or Protectionism Prevail In Cancun?"
Carlos Ball commented in sensationalist 2001 (9/4): “By the
beginning of the year, George W. Bush decidedly acted against Iraq, rejecting
France and Germany’s arguments. But, is Bush also convinced of the advantages
of the free international trade?...
We’ll see very soon, in the ministerial conference of the World Trade
Organization scheduled to begin on September 10 in Cancun.… Washington has a
long record of creating enemies in Latin America.… U.S. social democratic foreign policy towards
Latin America has been a total disaster.
Nobody believes in the good intentions of the State Department that
hypocritically hails free trade while imposing labor and environmental norms
that destroy poor countries’ competitive advantages.… In Cancun, U.S. has the
chance to defend the principles that guided the foundation of this nation to
'reach the blessings of freedom'...or it can stand idly by, again.”