TWN Info Service
on WTO and Trade Issues (June10/03)
Geneva, 10 Jun (Kanaga Raja) -- South Africa is now looking at a number of possibilities in South-South trade involving other "poles of growth" such as India, Brazil and China, Mr Rob Davies, South Africa's Trade and Industry Minister, said Wednesday.
He placed this view in the context of European economies being in the throes of a crisis, and a weak euro (and the European Union drive for a fiscal contraction in Member States.)
[Nobel Laureate Paul
Krugman, in a blog post at the New York Times, has said that the euro
weakness is turning the euro-zone's fiscal contraction into a global
problem, and would affect the rest of the world, including the
At a media briefing in Geneva (where he was attending the executive session of the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board), Davies said that although multilateralism has been where developing countries have focused their attention, the picture is changing with the emergence of "new poles of economic power" and new forces of dynamism in the world economy.
"And we now see
a huge number of possibilities from South-South trade," he further
said, adding that a lot of
Speaking at the same media briefing, Richard Kozul-Wright, Chief of UNCTAD's Unit for Economic Cooperation and Integration among Developing Countries, highlighted concerns in UNCTAD in the way the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are being "hijacked" by an economic agenda which "we don't think is capable of achieving the MDGs within the requisite time-frame (by 2015)".
"The need to move essentially from a focus on deprivation which is how the MDGs have become conceived to a focus on development - which is where we think they should be - essentially requires countries to rethink their development strategies and look towards new development paths...," he said.
He added: "I think that message is very much underpinned in our (UNCTAD's) analysis by a need to rethink macroeconomic policy, a need to reintroduce some of the policy challenges that have been essentially excluded from the agenda thanks to the dominance of very conventional thinking over the course of the last couple of decades."
One of the big victims of that, in UNCTAD'S view, is industrial policy which has essentially not been discussed for two decades amongst policy-makers, particularly in the development community, he said.
He also said that this has been the case in many developing countries themselves who have been either forced into accepting that exclusion or have themselves bought into the conventional thinking.
Rob Davies said that
On the Doha Round,
Davies said that
"The level of ambition on agriculture reform has been a modest one, but we're seeing now that there are demands which are couched as raising the level of ambition, but in our estimation, they are not about raising the ambition per se across the board, but are actually requests or demands on so-called advanced developing countries that they must now make a whole lot of concessions to the demands of the developed world," particularly in industrial tariffs and services and a number of other issues in the "horizontal" process, he said.
Although multilateralism has been where developing countries have focused their attention for very good reasons - because bilateralism has not been all that attractive - he said that picture is changing, because "we've seen the emergence of new poles of economic power in the world economy" and new forces of dynamism in the world economy.
"And we now see
a huge number of possibilities from South-South trade," he said,
adding that a lot of
"And we have also
seen the impact of the devaluation of the euro," which means for
some time to come, as long as this crisis continues to engulf
He was of the view
that there is risk of double-dip recession in
Asked about industrial policy gaining primacy over trade policy and whether this will go against the WTO Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs) Agreement, Davies said that there is probably more policy space available than many countries imagine. "I think that's something which we're learning and certainly we will be looking to identify the policy space that we have."
"We're not looking to break the rules. We're not looking to challenge the DSU (Dispute Settlement Understanding), but we are looking to use the policy space in a creative and serious way to advance our objectives," he added. "I think that also means that we will be seeking to preserve important policy space in whatever outcome there is that emerges, if there is indeed an outcome," he stressed.
Asked if there is going to be any progress in the Doha Round or will there be a permanent impasse, Davies said that "there is a sort of consensus there's nothing going to happen this year. Everybody is looking to 2011."
Indicating that South Africa has no objection to engaging in the "horizontal" process (involving the issues of services, environmental goods, fisheries subsidies and rules), Davies said "but we should disabuse ourselves and anybody else of the idea that the outcome there is all about delivering some pay-off for all the reforms that have been made in agriculture."
He said that he had
pointed out that the Doha development mandate is there because there
are a number of structural issues in the existing world trading system
that are to the disadvantage of the developing countries. The focus
of the Doha Round should be on these. It is true and clear that those
are most evident and sharpest in agriculture, but they are not confined
to that. In each of the other subjects, the
When talking about services, environmental goods and fisheries subsidies, there must be a developmental outcome on each of those as well as in the overall developmental outcome of the Round, said Davis, pointing out that this is the work programme that South Africa is prepared to engage in.
"We want to conclude a developmental Round," he stressed. "We want an early conclusion that is loyal to the mandate. If we have to choose between the two, we'll take one that's loyal to the mandate and we'll wait for it." +