Six Decades of Unequal Development
Chapter 12: The WTO – Tilting Trade Rules Further Against the South
CHAPTER 12 4/7/01 1:38 pm Page 1 12. The WTO - tilting trade rules further against the South The Uruguay Round brought about substantial changes in the framework of international trade, which are likely to increase the structural disequilibria of North-South trade to which the PST drew attention when analysing unequal gains of trade. Hence the need for financial transfers is also likely to grow. Mirroring political power and the ability to push through economic interests, the results accommodate Northern interests much better (Raffer, 1996c). Naturally, the institutionalized change brought about by the WTO regime means that any assessment at present must still be considered somewhat preliminary. Further changes in the framework of world trade emanating from the new regime have to be expected, although this built-in automaticity was at least temporarily derailed at the Third Ministerial Conference at Seattle. Many details and problems remain postponed in spite of long higgling and haggling. But all in all, the Round has strengthened the tendencies towards divergence and inequality, rather than correcting them. Generally, the Uruguay Round liberalized where it was in the interest of ICs, while sectors important to SCs remain selectively more protected. The Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC) discussed in the next chapter is the prime example of this asymmetry, showing how easily ICs are willing to infringe the very idea of liberalization when this is in their interest. The first stage of ‘liberalization’ in textiles and clothing and the decisions on net food importers highlight the...
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