John Burton
Department for International Development

I was posted to India during the period 1997 to 2002 as an Economic Adviser to the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). This coincided with a period when DFID became intensely interested in issues of globalisation in general, and trade in particular. DFID published a White Paper on “Making Globalisation Work for the Poor” in 2000, and as an advocate of the new “Development Round” of trade negotiations, we were particularly interested in India’s negotiating position at the Seattle and Doha WTO Ministerial Conferences.

CUTS was, therefore, an obvious partner of DFID on this agenda, and Pradeep Mehta has been extremely effective at linking up not just with the DFID office in India, but also with the headquarters departments (International Trade Department, Asia Regional Policy Department, and Private Sector Policy Department). DFID, India commissioned a study on links between trade liberalisation and poverty in South Asia as part of a global study on this issue, which CUTS won on the basis of a competitive tender, and executed effectively.

CUTS has impressed me in terms of its ability to bid for work and deliver a professional output within budget and on time. The output of CUTS (briefing papers, newsletters, studies, training) is prolific. CUTS is unusual as a southern NGO, in its ability to work across continents, thereby building capacity of research and advocacy institutions in other developing countries.

In the future, I hope that CUTS will be able to expand and diversify its funding base, as well as improve its research capacity further, both through in-house expertise, especially in economics (not just a professional bias on my part, but because this is relevant to their objectives), and collaborative research projects with other institutions in India and in other developed and developing countries.