WTO proposal for the richest: another trillion dollars – for the hungriest: tighter belts

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wto logoThe World Trade Organisation is proposing a deal “backed heavily by business groups around the world” with binding rules removing red tape at national frontiers. The Financial Times reports that some estimates put its benefit to the small ring of already rich people foremost in the global economy at up to $1tn.

However, at the WTO ministerial meeting in Bali, Anand Sharma, India’s commerce minister, called for “historical imbalances in trade rules” to be redressed. He said India was determined to renegotiate a compromise solution on food security that it had agreed last month in Geneva:

“Food security is essential for 4bn people of the world. For India food security is non-negotiable”.

European frustration

European frustration

As Brazil wavers, India continues ‘holding firm against heavy pressure’ to cut a deal to renegotiate the WTO rules applied to government programmes to provide food to the poor. Those efforts have been resisted by the US and other rich countries.

Today, David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, and German chancellor Angela Merkel are among the national leaders preparing to call India’s Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, on Friday to lobby for a deal.

Advertising-reliant media do their best

Media hype dismisses Sharma as ‘defiant’, seeking pre-electoral advantage and vying for the spotlight and – hopefully – lacking political clout at home, though admitting he effectively put Goldman Sachs to rights in November.

Writing for the IMF website, Jagdish Bhagwati, the heavily corporate-friendly trade economist, even called the proposals “Doha Lite and Decaffeinated”

Plan B – ‘mega-regionalism’

Ministers from the US, Japan and 10 other countries will meet in Singapore immediately after Bali to create the Trans-Pacific Partnership are meeting. They hope to emerge with a deal that covers almost a third of global trade.

A week after that, negotiators working on a EU-US pact will gather in Washington for a third round of talks towards an even larger deal.

Will just one more disaster enhance the growing pressure for beneficial change?

See proposals for “a set of practical measures for protecting and re-diversifying local economies by limiting what goods they let in and what funds they choose to enter or leave the country. Most importantly, in the process they will wean themselves off of their export dependence. This will allow space for domestic funding and business to meet most of the needs of the majority in society”.#

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