Free Trade Is Not So Free After All

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By Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BARCELONA (IDN) - International negotiations on so-called “free trade agreements” have always had something surreptitious about them. In the late 1990s, the industrialised countries represented at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) wanted to pass a “multilateral agreement on investment” (MAI) with the alleged goal of facilitating – liberating, so to speak – international investment. But, for all the good that such investment was supposed to bring about across the world, the OECD managed the negotiations in a most clandestine way.

With good reason: Only thanks to the extraordinary work of civil rights activists and journalists, it was revealed that the MAI draft constituted a carte blanche for corporations to commit all kind of violations of national legislation on social and environmental matters.

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Trade: Some Unfinished Work Remains After Bali

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By Kanaga Raja* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

GENEVA, (IDN | SUNS) - The ninth session of the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) came to a close on the morning of December 7, after adopting a Ministerial Declaration, the entire Bali package of ten texts, and five other Ministerial decisions.

The conference, which began on December 3 and was scheduled to end on December 6, spilled over into Saturday , when a very small group of countries, citing some concerns, had refused to join the consensus on the draft Bali package at an earlier informal Heads of Delegation (HOD) meeting.

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Trade: Move To Railroad Developing Countries To Surrender at Bali

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By Chakravarthi Raghavan* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

GENEVA (IDN | SUNS) - As trade ambassadors in Geneva, having packed their bags are wending their way across half-the-world, and trade ministers from around the globe, gather in Bali for the biennial Ministerial Conference of the WTO from December 3 to 6, the multilateral trading system is once again trying to prove the ‘uncertainty' principle of quantum theory in physics.

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Trade: Guard Against WTO Wall On Way To Bali

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By Chakravarthi Raghavan*  | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis | SUNS

A controversial package consisting of agreements on trade facilitation, agriculture and development issues is on the anvil in run-up to the Ninth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to be held from December 3 to 6, 2013 in Bali, Indonesia. One of the contentious proposals pleads for a take-it-or-leave it “political decision”. The writer walks through a labyrinth of agendas, negotiations and deadlocks, laying bare all sorts of traps into which developing countries with little political clout tend to fall rather inadvertently.

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Global Trade Talks Remain Stuck

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By R. Nastranis and Kinda Mohamadieh*
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

GENEVA (IDN) - Uncertainty clouds the fate of the current round of global trade negotiations under the umbrella of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which commenced in November 2011 and have been stalled since July 2008. All eyes are now set on the ninth ministerial conference (MC9) to be held on the Indonesian island of Bali December 3-6, 2013.

The reason behind the impasse, according to Dr Rubens Ricupero, a former UNCTAD Secretary-General, is that the advanced economies are retracting on their promises given at the WTO's Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001.

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China Alone Abides by Commitments to World's Poorest

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China Alone Abides by Commitments to World's PoorestBy Raúl de Sagastizabal*
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

MONTEVIDEO (IDN) - The WTO member countries are moving towards the Eighth Ministerial Conference in Doha next December, again with no concrete results, even on issues relating to least-developed Countries (LDCs), recognized by the member countries' ambassadors in the informal meeting of last July 26.

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WTO Needs a Shot in the Arm

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WTO Needs a Shot in the ArmBy Jürgen Wiemann*
IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

BONN (IDN) - At first sight, it may seem far-fetched to see a link between the icon of Islamist terrorism and the WTO Development Round. But let us not forget that a mere three months after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, for which Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility, the first multilateral round of negotiations in the WTO, the World Trade Organisation, newly established in 1995, began in Doha, Qatar.

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