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WTO and Third World

How the world?s economical powers treat the many challenges faced by Third World economies, will go a long way toward determining what kind of world we inhabit.
PTI | By Tulika Bhatnagar, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 21, 2003 11:37 AM IST

World Trade Organisation
A Third World Perspective

Amrita Gulla
Minerva Press
Pages: 216
Price: Rs 200

World Trade Organisation – A Third World Perspective takes a look at how trade relations between the developing and developed countries are undergoing fundamental changes. The author ponders deep into the WTO agreement to raise several questions about the fairness of the world trade regime.

Few points matter more in the debate over globalisation than the “Free Trade Regime.” Whether it’s looking out over the next few years or the next quarter-century, how the world’s economical powers treat the many challenges faced by Third World economies, will go a long way toward determining what kind of world we inhabit. Pick an issue – the structure and function of the WTO, the weaknesses in trade between the Third World and the Western countries, problem areas, emerging challenges and differences of opinion – and you will find that the book handles these with thought-provoking discussions.

The impressive trade reform, which the developing countries have undertaken in recent years have yielded substantial economic benefits. But the challenge lies in sustaining the momentum of such reforms. While the book suggests how the continued liberalisation of the agricultural and service sectors, in particular, will deliver considerable benefits to developing economies; the interrelationship between the Western and the Third World countries also comes under close scrutiny. The book unveils the role of WTO as a mechanism to manage global trade – and not as a vehicle for unchallenged free trade.

Trade negotiations for many years, have been partial to the developing countries. In the Third World’s perspective, the new rules too, bring about only marginal improvements in crucial areas of trade, such as bigger market access for exports, industrial policy restrictions, protection of intellectual property rights, and institutional reforms among others.

The author correctly points out that the Third World countries do not trust the nature of decision-making in global trade, or trade-influencing institutions (such as the World Bank or the IMF). These institutions, according to them, are undemocratic in nature, and lack transparency, besides being totally ineffective in influencing the policies of the industrialised countries.

As an international body, WTO’s aim should not be to limit the ability of developing countries to realise the aspirations of their people, but to encourage the growth in total volume of trade between the countries, so that new opportunity areas open up.

What are the options available to the Third World, and what should be its strategies in future? The author answers these questions with amazing simplicity, and defines the scope of WTO Agreement to retain control over domestic economic decision-making. You realise ultimately that what would really decide the fate of the WTO agreement is the amount of endeavours put by both the West and the Third World, into realising a mutually beneficial, interdependent, and peaceful world order.

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