south-north development monitor SUNS [Email Edition]

SUNS #4441, Wednesday, 26 May 1999


Health: Assembly adopts new revised drug strategy (Chakravarthi Raghavan, Geneva)

Trade: Do 'open' economies really grow faster than others? (Chakravarthi Raghavan, Geneva)

Agriculture: Experts tackle new challenges in food security (IPS, Beijing)

Environment: Time-bomb in the South - expired pesticides (IPS, Rome)

Africa: Economic integration is the route to growth (IPS, Nairobi)

Trade: Clouds over Andean Community (IPS, Bogota)

Thailand: Markets improve, but no real recovery (IPS, Bangkok)


Some excerpts from selected articles:

Health: Assembly adopts new revised drug strategy

Geneva, 24 May (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The World health Assembly at its current 52nd session has adopted a revised drug strategy giving a new mandate to the WHO on policies to ensure improved access to essential drugs, and tackling the interface between health, trade and intellectual property issues.

The new resolution supplements the 1986 Revised Drug Strategy, to take account of the public health perspectives on trade issues and the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Issues (TRIPS).

The resolution asks member states to:

* reaffirm their commitment to develop, implement and monitor national drug policies and take all necessary concrete measures to ensure equitable access to essential drugs,

* ensure that public health interests are paramount in pharmaceutical and health policies,

* and explore and review their options under relevant international agreements, including trade agreements, to safeguard access to essential drugs.

Last year a resolution on this issue, recommended by the Executive Board, that came before the Assembly was strenuously opposed by the US and many European governments and the transnational pharmaceutical lobby, and was sent back for further study and consultations.

Trade: Do 'open' economies really grow faster than others?

Geneva, 25 May (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The policy advice to developing countries from the World Bank, IMF and the OECD (and now the WTO) that liberalizing international trade and lowering tariff and non-tariff barriers promote growth has been viewed with scepticism in two recent research papers. Both papers have been issued by the US National Bureau of Economic Research: one by Ann Harrison and Gordon Hanson, and another by Franisco Rodriguez and Dani Rodrik (who has recently taken over as the Research coordinator for the Group of 24 on International Monetary and Financial Issues).

Reviewing existing literature, both papers express scepticism about the assertions and claims.

The two research papers come at a time when trade negotiators. from the industrial world and several from the developing world, at the World Trade Organization, are preparing for the 3rd Ministerial Meeting at Seattle, and are focusing on trade liberalization and large cuts in industrial tariffs of developing countries, demanded by the US and EC, and promoted by free trade ideologues.

In the preparatory process, the negotiators are arguing about the levels and extent, whether it should be an open negotiating issue, or one whose final outcome would be set under the guise of 'modalities' to a predetermined bands and levels as the EC and US are advocating, or whether it should all be a trade-off against other concessions (like the EC and US opening up their own markets for agriculture).

But they generally don't challenge the view that liberalization promotes growth and welfare gains.

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