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 1: Trade Liberalization, Rural Poverty and the Environment
Jonathan A. Cook, Owen Cylke, Donald F. Larson, John D. Nash and Pamela Stedman-Edwards As trade negotiators from around the world gathered for World Trade Organization (WTO) talks in Seattle in November 1999, a heated debate over the impacts of trade and trade liberalization reached its peak. A diverse group of protesters from countries north and south temporarily halted the controversial negotiations after years of slow but steady progress toward a global expansion of trade liberalization. While international development institutions and the governments of many developed and developing countries attempted to push forward with trade liberalization, protesters blamed trade for many of the problems facing the poor in developing countries and for the increasing degradation of the natural environment. At the same time, a deep schism emerged between developed and developing countries over agricultural trade and the protection of intellectual property rights (Bhagwati, 2005). The rapid growth of international trade, supported by the liberalization of trade policies and by the efforts of many developing countries to expand exports, has dramatically transformed the international arena in recent decades. Trade liberalization and export promotion together have formed a policy keystone for many developing countries and for international development institutions. But the rapid changes brought in some places by opening markets, and the failed promise of change in others, have generated a highly polemical debate around the role of trade. Trade has been lionized – credited with fostering not only economic growth, but also poverty alleviation, environmental improvements and even democratization. And trade has...
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