COC

Poor nations hit by trade policy micromanagement (January 2005)

Rethinking Bretton Woods | Tue, Feb 1, 2005

By Aldo Caliari
In this letter to the Financial Times, Center of Concern's staff Aldo Caliari says Peter Sutherland's article ""How to make world trade fairer"" (January 18) fails to address a crucial constraint adversely affecting the decision-making power of the poorest countries in the World Trade Organisation.

Sir,

Peter Sutherland's article ""How to make world trade fairer"" (January 18) fails to address a crucial constraint adversely affecting the decision-making power of the poorest countries in the World Trade Organisation.

As recently as last month, the World Bank reported that two-thirds of trade liberalisation measures in the past 20 years had been introduced unilaterally rather than as the result of trade negotiations. During that period, most of the poorest countries implementing these measures were subject to World Bank and International Monetary Fund programmes biased towards unfettered trade liberalisation. At the same time, antiquated governing rules within these institutions mean they are effectively ruled by their wealthiest members, the same members that stand to benefit from poor countries' concessions in trade negotiations.

Any effort to level the playing field in trade negotiations must start by acknowledging and addressing the undue involvement of international financial institutions in micromanaging the trade and investment policy of their borrowers. Regrettably, Mr Sutherland's consultative board ignored the issue.