Vulnerable Places, Vulnerable People
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Vulnerable Places, Vulnerable People

Trade Liberalization, Rural Poverty and the Environment

Edited by Jonathan A. Cook, Owen Cylke, Donald F. Larson, John D. Nash and Pamela Stedman-Edwards

While some argue that trade liberalization has raised incomes and led to environmental protection in developing countries, others claim that it generates neither poverty reduction nor sustainability. The detailed case studies in this book demonstrate that neither interpretation is universally correct, given how much depends on specific policies and institutions that determine ‘on-the-ground’ outcomes. Drawing on research from six countries around the developing world, the book also presents the unique perspectives of researchers at both the world’s largest development organization (The World Bank) and the world’s largest conservation organization (World Wildlife Fund) on the debate over trade liberalization and its effects on poverty and the environment.
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Chapter 10: Beyond Trade: Economic Transition in the Globalization Era and Prospects for Poverty and Environment

Bruno Losch


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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