Rethinking Liberalisation

rethinking liberalisationIF any single word can be said to have dominated the post-Cold War economic discourse, it is surely 'liberalisation'.The South has been pushed by the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO and the Northern governments to adopt economic policies designed to liberalise its economies.

Critics have repeatedly questioned the claims of liberalisation to deliver on its promise of prosperity. Almost every move by the proponents of liberalisation has now come under challenge.

In this respect, it is clear that the next battleground will be the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Seattle, where the object of Northern governments lead by the EU, is to set in motion a fresh round of trade talks to push forward the process of liberalisation.

Reports and analyses of the TDR as well as the WIR are provided below. It also shows the importance of these Reports' findings for the struggle at Seattle.

  • The perils of excessive trade and financial liberalisation (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
    UNCTAD's latest Trade and Development Report has sounded a warning against the current policies of financial and trade liberalisation being pursued by developing countries as a result of pressure and advice by Northern governments and multilateral agencies and institutions under their control. In calling for a reappraisal of such policies of closer integration into the global trading and financial system, the Report urges developing countries to retain their policy options and economic instruments, including the regulatory tools to control financial inflows and outflows.(20 Sept 99)

  • Openness, deficits and lack of development (Jayati Ghosh)
    Jayati Ghosh argues that, in view of the findings of UNCTAD's latest Trade and Development Report, greater trade and financial integration of the developing countries has resulted in the worsening of their balance-of-payments position and domestic economic growth; it is time to revise the now-hackneyed policy prescriptions which see liberalisation as the universal economic panacea. (Third World Resurgence No. 110/111, Oct/Nov 99)

  • FDI is no panacea for South's economic woes (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
    The current orthodoxy on foreign direct investment as a non-debt-creating and more stable form of capital flow, likely to offer unprecedented growth and technology-enhancement opportunities for developing countries, is questioned in UNCTAD's Trade and Development Report 1999. (Third World Resurgence No. 110/111, Oct/Nov 99)

  • "No" to investment rules restricting national policy options - Ricupero (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
    In launching the World Investment Report 1999 (WIR-99), the UNCTAD Secretary-General made it clear that he was personally opposed to any agreement on multilateral rules on investment that would reduce the policy options of a developing country. He also expressed the view that, in his opinion, the existence or otherwise of such an agreement would not affect the prospects of a country attracting foreign investments.(27 Sept 99)

  • A critique of neo-liberal globalisation? (Prof Gerald Epstein)
    Prof. Gerald Epstein argues that, notwithstanding its weaknesses and shortcomings, the World Investment Report 1999 (WIR-99) provides a strong empirical critique of the neo-liberal argument in favour of the non-regulation of TNCs.(Third World Resurgence No. 110/111, Oct/Nov 99)

  • World Investment Report 1999 flawed on many fronts (Prof Alejandro Nadal)
    Prof. Alejandro Nadal takes issue with some of the main findings and conclusions of UNCTAD's WIR-99, in particular its claim that foreign direct investment has played a positive role in technological enhancement and employment generation for developing countries.(Third World Resurgence No. 110/111, Oct/Nov 99)

  • Not so level a playing field at WTO (C.Raghavan/SUNS)
    Drawing attention to the fact that trade liberalisation under the aegis of GATT and its successor body, the WTO, has been an inequitable process, UNCTAD's Trade and Development Report calls for a 'positive trade agenda' to redress the grievances of developing countries.(Third World Resurgence No. 110/111, Oct/Nov 99)

  • Why developing countries cannot afford new issues in the WTO Seattle conference (M.Khor/TWN)
    In a speech to the 9th Ministerial Meeting of the Group of 77 at Marrakech on 16 September 1999, Martin Khor, the Director of Third World Network, called for a rethink on trade liberalisation and its effects. The full text of his speech is reproduced above.

  • Third World NGOs against new WTO Round (C.Oh/TWN)
    NGOs and social movements in the South have been actively campaigning against the proposed new Round of trade talks which Northern countries are attempting to launch at Seattle. (Third World Resurgence No. 110/111, Oct/Nov 99)