CUTS International and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), in association with the Department of Commerce, Government of India, Commonwealth Secretariat and India office of the World Bank are jointly organising a Conference on ‘Global Partnership for Development’ in New Delhi, India on August 12-13, 2008. The idea for this Conference was conceived in the backdrop of slow progress in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations. Although in no sense substitutes for the multilateral process of the Doha Round, the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations involving the African, Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) countries and the European Union (EU) may not yield desired developmental outcomes.
The on-going Doha Round was dubbed as the ‘Development Round’ even though a completely successful Doha Round cannot possibly solve the serious developmental problems in most least developed countries (LDCs), many of which are domestic in nature. Yet, after seven years of tortuous negotiations poor countries are now concerned that the possible outcomes are unlikely to offer anything meaningful to them, since prospects of significant reductions in market access barriers faced by many of them are dim.
Besides, significant domestic supply constraints limit their ability to take advantage of increased global trade and investment flows. Similarly, an overwhelming majority of ACP countries are increasingly realising that their Preferential Trading Arrangements (PTAs) with the EU, which are to be transformed to reciprocal preferential schemes (WTO consistent), can hardly help them to increase their share in world trade and deliver development.
Whilst international trade is recognised as an important vehicle for fostering economic growth, lack of supply-side capacity along with market access barriers have reduced development opportunities for a large number of poor and most vulnerable countries, threatening the objective of achieving a number of their own development goals.
There is a widespread recognition of the need for developed countries to help developing countries achieve their development goals, which necessarily will go beyond the development goals envisaged in the Doha Round and EPA negotiations.
The reality is that the eight goals of the so called Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in particular, MDG-8, which stresses the importance of a global partnership for development, emphasising the need for cooperation and commitment from developed nations towards achieving the other seven MDGs, remains largely rhetorical. There is no firm and concrete commitment by the rich countries to reform their trade regimes to provide effective opportunities and to take concomitant measures to assist the poor countries in their fight against poverty.
However, the direction and priorities of trade, aid and debt policies, the principal ways through which the North interacts with the South are largely decided in the North. Yet, they have profound impact on the society, economy and stability of countries in the South. Both the rich and the poor countries are accountable in advancing a broad development agenda.
Many observers are of the view that as the expectations of poor countries from the Doha and EPAs are presently quite low, an emphasis on a broad development agenda with a clear delineation of commitments and obligations of the North and South would provide an opportune avenue through which more serious North-South engagement in development cooperation may be triggered. With this in view, this global dialogue, involving important stakeholders, is being organised.
To keep the Conference focused on the subject matter and facilitate stimulating deliberation and discussion, a number of thought provoking ideas will be discussed as a reference for future discourse on global trade and development cooperation regime.
- To assess the impact of the Doha Round of negotiations by WTO Members on LDCs and small vulnerable economies and the prospects for achieving their enhanced and beneficial participation in world trade
- To discuss the scope for cooperation among developed and developing countries outside multilateral trade talks and regional trading arrangements and to strengthen the link between trade, growth and poverty reduction in the developing world
- To identify measures that could be adopted by developed and more advanced developing countries for advancing growth and development in rest of the world (particularly in the poorer world), i.e. beyond their national borders and regional economic groupings
- To arrive at recommendations for making the global partnership for development more inclusive.
The specific objectives of the Conference will revolve around the following:
Day One: Tuesday, 12 August 2008
0930 hrs Onwards
Global Partnership for Development: Where do we stand?
LDCs and SVEs in the International Trading System:
What future for them?
Operationalising Aid for Trade: Who is (should) doing (do) what?
UK’s Aid for Trade Strategy: Lessons for future effective
international trade and development architecture
Services Liberalisation and Domestic Regulation:
Why is it so important?
Day Two: Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Mainstreaming Development in the WTO
Trilateral Development Cooperation: How to make
it more effective?
The Future of the Global Trading System
Global Partnership for Development: Where to go?