News & Commentary:

February 2003 Archives


Borders Beyond Control
Jagdish Bhagwati (Foreign Affairs) Jan/Feb 2002
Migration lies at the center of global problems today. Rich countries are trying to attract skilled immigrants and keep unskilled ones out; poor countries are trying to keep skilled labor at home. Both sides are doomed to fail. Governments must stop trying to curtail migration and start managing it to seek benefits for all.

The WTO on Trial
Susan Esserman and Robert Howse (Foreign Affairs) Jan/Feb 2002
The World Trade Organization represents a dramatic innovation in international law: binding dispute resolution between sovereign countries. But have the WTO's judges gone too far and exceeded their unprecedented authority? Although the truth turns out to be more complex than the organization's many critics insist, the fact remains that the WTO's courts still leave plenty of room for improvement.

Window of opportunity on IFI governance
Bretton Woods Update 32 Jan/Feb 2003
The latest issue of the bi-monthly Bretton Woods Update features several articles discussing suggested reforms to the governance structures of the World Bank and IMF in the run-up to the Spring Meetings to be held in Washington in April.

A Serious Response to AIDS
NYT Feb 1, 2003
President Bush's decision to triple spending to fight AIDS overseas finally provides a response from Washington commensurate with the disease's catastrophic scale.

When power disdains realism
William Pfaff (IHT) Feb 3, 2003
Javier Solana, the European Union’s high representative in foreign affairs, spoke recently about what he saw as a confrontation between a religious vision of world affairs in the White House and the secular and rationalist vision of the Europeans.

America should not fight Aids alone
Jeffrey Sachs (FT) Feb 4, 2003
Impoverished and dying people around the world await a call from the US and Europe together.

US trade policy 'isolates Muslim states'
FT Feb 4, 2003
US trade policy risks isolating the Muslim states that are on the front line in the war on terrorism, according to a new study.

Cut-throat competitors Financial Times Subscription Required
FT Feb 5, 2003
As China emerges as one of the biggest players in the global economy, the former Communist state may yet become a champion of free trade.

IMF urged to go easy on Argentina
FT Feb 6, 2003
Roberto Lavagna, Argentina's economy minister, has urged the IMF to go easy on Argentina's next government rather than demand damaging fiscal restraint.

European monetary policy
Economist Feb 6, 2002
The European Central Bank has left interest rates unchanged, in spite of a sharp rise in the value of the euro, which some economists argue greatly strengthens the case for cutting rates. Frankfurt’s hesitation contrasts with the Bank of England’s decision to reduce rates to their lowest level in almost 50 years.

IMF warns Russia on growth and need for reform
FT Feb 14, 2003
The Russian economy is slowing down and faces further threats from oil price fluctations and inflation, the International Monetary Fund warned.

Bavaria and the case for free trade Financial Times Subscription Required
Timothy Guinnane (FT) Feb 14, 2003
The results of the state's integration into an all-German customs union in 1834 illustrate the long-term benefits of globalisation.

Agriculture Negotiations: Modalities First Draft Circulated
WTO Feb 17, 2003
The first draft of the agriculture modalities paper was circulated to member governments on 12 February 2003, focusing the negotiations on the search for the compromises that are necessary for a final agreement. The modalities are targets (including numerical targets) for achieving the objectives of the negotiations, as well as issues related to rules. Due to be established by 31 March 2003, they will set parameters of the final agreement to be reached by 1 January 2005.

A New Power in the Streets
Patrick E. Tyler (NYT) Feb 17, 2003
President Bush appears to be eyeball to eyeball with a tenacious new adversary: world public opinion.

WTO nearer to deal on access to drugs
FT Feb 17, 2003
A Brazilian proposal has raised hopes of a breakthrough in the World Trade Organisation's deadlocked talks on poor countries' access to essential medicines.

A vicious circle of investor gloom and mistrust Financial Times Subscription Required
Philip Coggan (FT) Feb 17, 2003
The prolonged bull market became entrenched in people's thinking, but now we must adjust to a very different world - a look at the psychology of the bear.

Place the rule of law at the heart of trade Financial Times Subscription Required
Clayton Yeutter & Warren Maruyama (FT) Feb 17, 2003
The US and Europe should urge the WTO to make rule of law issues part of the negotiating agenda for the Doha round.

World trade
Economist Feb 17, 2003
World trade ministers failed to agree on plans to liberalise agricultural trade and make cheap medicines available to poor countries during a three-day meeting which ended in Tokyo on February 16th. It looks as if the Doha round will progress as slowly as previous sets of negotiations.

Ahmed on IMF in poor countries Adobe Acrobat Required
IMF Survey Feb 17, 2003
SDRM further defined; Boorman speech on SDRM; Kenen on SDRM approach; politics and fiscal outcomes; Tseng on China's reform agenda.

China trade surplus will boost global growth
FT Feb 18, 2003
China's ballooning trade surplus with the US is a boon to global growth and therefore desirable, said Robert Zoellick, US trade representative.

Asia is footing the bill Financial Times Subscription Required
Martin Wolf (FT) Feb 19, 2003
The US current account deficit is nearly 50 per cent bigger than its defence spending. This is a combination should worry Washington's strategic planners.

World trade Recommended!
Economist Feb 19, 2003
A further effort to make cheap medicines available to poor countries has come to nothing. This follows the failure of trade ministers to agree on plans to liberalise agricultural trade during a three-day meeting in Tokyo. It looks as if the Doha round will progress as slowly as previous sets of negotiations.

Tokyo Mini-Ministerial Fails To Deliver Results Recommended!
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 7, Number 6 Feb 19, 2003
Trade ministers from 22 countries, meeting in Tokyo from 14-16 February for a second 'mini-Ministerial' since the launch of the Doha round of trade negotiations in November 2001, made little progress in resolving a number of ongoing deadlocks at the WTO. The threat of war in Iraq loomed over the meeting, and the rifts between the US and the EU over the war also complicated the trade talks. Ahead of the meeting, WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi warned that "we are facing imminent gridlock. Only tightly focused political energy can avoid it." Highlighting negotiations on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) and access to essential medicines for poor countries, and special and differential treatment (S&D) for developing counties, he said "failure to make real progress on [these issues] has deepened suspicions among developing countries that the 'Development' part of the Doha Development Agenda may be little more than a slogan".

Agriculture: Harbinson's Modalities Draft Receives Mixed Reactions
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 7, Number 6 Feb 19, 2003
Within the last week, key WTO Members, farmers associations and NGOs have been reacting strongly to Stuart Harbinson's first draft proposal on modalities for the WTO agriculture negotiations. The modalities draft -- setting out the scope of the negotiations, the methodology to be followed during the actual process, and the end-results expected -- was first circulated on 12 February. While the US and the Cairn Group of 15 agricultural exporting countries expressed disappointment with the draft, focusing on its lack of ambition regarding the proposed cuts in tariffs and trade-distorting support, the EU complained that the draft modalities were biased towards agricultural exporting countries such as the US and those of the Cairns Group. Moreover, the EU said the text would not sufficiently take into account agricultural non-trade concerns (NTCs) such as environment and food safety. For their part, developing countries such as India, Kenya and Nigeria welcomed Harbinson's proposal, noting that it would provide poorer countries with the flexibilities they needed to address their developmental needs.

No Compromise In Sight On TRIPs & Health
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 7, Number 6 Feb 19, 2003
Discussions at the Tokyo 'mini-Ministerial' on 14-16 February and the Council for Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), taking place on 18-20 February, failed to narrow the gap on paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on TRIPs and health. The TRIPs Council saw a repetition of the old debate with no mention of Council Chair Ambassador Eduardo Perez Motta's proposed draft note on "understandings" or Brazil's proposal on eligibility raised at the Tokyo meeting in yet another attempt to break the deadlock. The US, which is blocking the adoption of the Chair's draft paragraph 6 solution of 16 December, is coming under increasing pressure from Democrats at home to soften its stance on disease coverage.

Reckless and arrogant policies
Robert Byrd (IHT) Feb 19, 2003
To contemplate war is to think about the most horrible of human experiences. Yet [the Senate] chamber is for the most part silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for Americans the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing. Only on the editorial pages of newspapers is there much substantive discussion of the prudence or imprudence of engaging in this particular war.

End Farm Subsidies Wall Street Journal Subscription Required
Sara Fitzgerald (AWSJ) Feb 20, 2003
New Zealand and Australia offer good examples to the WTO.

Genetically modified crops sprout across Asia
IHT Feb 21, 2003
Worried about falling behind its global competition, much of Asia is rushing forward with the development and cultivation of genetically modified crops.

Heads Up, Seven Up Wall Street Journal Subscription Required
David Malpass (WSJ) Feb 21, 2003
Will the upcoming G7 meeting lay the ground work for a new global bull market?

Gods, Generals, and Tariffs
Thomas J. DiLorenzo (Mises Daily) Feb 21, 2003
The anticipation surrounding the new movie "Gods and Generals," which opens today, underscores the continuing fascination that Americans (and the world) have with the meaning of the Civil War. It also reflects a growing awareness that the simple story of Northern liberators versus Southern slaveholders fails to do justice to the truth. But what continues to be missed are the economic roots of the North-South conflict - roots which represent deviations from the free-trade ideal.

The global economy
Economist Feb 21, 2002
This weekend’s meeting of finance ministers from the G7 is a sign that global economic co-operation is still on the agenda for the world’s richest countries. But can they do more than talk?

The French Lesson Recommended!
Regis DeBray (NYT) Feb 22, 2002
"Old Europe," which long sought by sword and gun to subjugate Jerusalem, Algiers, Timbuktu and Beijing, has learned to distinguish between politics and religion.

The Middle East Belongs in the World Economy
Charlene Barshefsky (NYT) Feb 22, 2003
The Bush administration should complement its fight against terrorism by bringing trade and economic liberalization to the Middle East.

Markets peer through the fog of war
FT Feb 24, 2003
The prospect of upheaval in the Gulf may not explain the weakness of the global economy but it does offer finance ministers and central bankers an excuse to act.

Hurray for the Trade Deficit Wall Street Journal Subscription Required
WSJ Feb 24, 2003
Old Europe owes its economy to America's "unsustainable" demand.

The Steel Tariff's Costs Wall Street Journal Subscription Required
WSJ Feb 25, 2003
The big losers have been small American businesses.

Chirac Discovers Free Trade Wall Street Journal Subscription Required
WSJE Feb 25, 2003
Calling for an end of farm subsidies takes chutzpah.

Oil is worth defending
Martin Wolf (FT) Feb 25, 2003
Since oil is a global market, any disruption affects all consumers. In securing supplies, the US would provide a global public good.

People, plagues and prosperity Financial Times Subscription Required
Martin Wolf (FT) Feb 26, 2003
New United Nations' forecasts paint a picture of growing imbalances between young and old, rich and poor.

Debt relief scheme 'too optimistic'
FT Feb 26, 2003
A debt relief initiative for the world's poorest countries became the victim of unrealistic expectations due to political pressure, the World Bank has concluded.

Agriculture: Negotiations Stalling, NGOs Voice Concern
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 7, Number 7 Feb 27, 2003
WTO Members are currently meeting in a 24-28 February negotiating session of the Committee on Agriculture (CoA), with very little progress reported. The meeting takes place in the aftermath of a storm of criticism of Chair Stuart Harbinson's first modalities draft for agriculture negotiations, circulated on 12 February. WTO Members at the CoA are currently reviewing the draft, seeking to find solutions to the many contentious issues in the ongoing agriculture negotiations. The modalities -- setting out the scope of the negotiations, the methodology to be followed during the actual process, and the end-results expected -- are scheduled to be finalised by the end of March this year.

TRIPs Council Focuses On Tech Transfer And Geographical Indications
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 7, Number 7 Feb 27, 2003
The Council for Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), at its regular session on 18-20 February, adopted a decision on technical transfer to least-developed countries, thereby fulfilling one of the mandates adopted at the Doha Ministerial Conference. Earlier in the meeting, Members had failed to finalise negotiations on TRIPs and health and no new date has been set for continuing the discussions.

Group to help poor benefit from trade
FT Feb 28, 2003
An influential group of prominent citizens from developed and developing countries is to boost efforts to spread the benefits of global trade to the world's poor.

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