Trade Liberalization, Rural Poverty and the Environment
Edited by Jonathan A. Cook, Owen Cylke, Donald F. Larson, John D. Nash and Pamela Stedman-Edwards
Chapter 10: Beyond Trade: Economic Transition in the Globalization Era and Prospects for Poverty and Environment
1 Bruno Losch When WWF and the World Bank decided to join together in 2003 to investigate linkages between trade, rural poverty and the environment, the main objective was to improve the understanding of the complex relationships between these three issues and to throw light on vulnerable places and people facing the consequences of trade liberalization. The project was logically shaped by an international debate that was deeply focused on the trade issue. At that time, a successful ministerial meeting in Cancún was expected to show some progress in the WTO Doha Round that had begun in 2001. The so-called Doha “development round” emphasized the potential contribution of trade liberalization to poverty reduction; it was a direct reply to WTO critics echoing both ideological positions and national interests, dramatically expressed by the Seattle ministerial meeting protests in 1999, and also a more indirect response to the tragic events of September 2001. However, Cancún was a failure, as was the Hong Kong ministerial (2005), and three years later, in 2008, additional attempts to conclude the Doha Round were unsuccessful. Nevertheless, since then, the international debate has clearly evolved. The trade issue itself has faded in importance, notably because estimates of the gains from trade liberalization have been reduced and also because these estimates have provided a more nuanced view of the potential winners and losers, with many developing countries (particularly the least developed economies) in the second group. Discussions progressively shifted to the implementation of bilateral or regional free...
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