Published on ZSpace, by Fatoumata Jawara and Aileen Kwa, May 12, 2011.
World hunger, jobs, the overall economic prospects of developing and developed countries alike are all being shaped more and more by the international negotiations about trade, agriculture, services, investment and intellectual property rights going on at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Based on interviews with people actually participating in the negotiations, this remarkable book lifts the shroud of secrecy surrounding these ostensibly democratic negotiations.
What emerges is a disturbing account entirely at odds with the official picture of a rules-based consensus emerging out of multilateral trade discussions in which all WTO member countries are equal participants. In reality:
· Closed doors rather than open access and public information is the preferred mode of negotiation;
· Decisions are often being made without the full approval of developing countries;
· The tiny delegations of the poorest and smallest countries have only a limited capacity to calculate in advance the implications of what they are being asked to sign up to;
· More seriously still, there are instances of illegitimate pressures and inducements being offered by the US and EU country delegations – including threats to report non-compliant Third World delegates to their superiors, and hints that aid to countries refusing to kow-tow may be withheld