DEVELOPING COUNTRIES MUST NOT BE MARGINALIZED, ESCAP TRADE REPORT WARNS
Bangkok, United Nations Information Services (UNIS): The benefits of globalization and the
world trading system can be reaped only if policy reform in these countries is complemented by
supportive policies in developed nations and international institutions.
Underlining the fact that developing countries and economies in transition in the region must not
be marginalized further, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
(ESCAP), in a special study, urges a regional perspective on globalization specifically on how to
manage globalization and seize new opportunities.
Although East Asian and South-East Asian countries received universal acclaim as the fastest
growing economies they too bore the brunt of the most serious economic crisis in the past 50
years. Enhanced participation in the globalization therefore brings with certain risk. " The Asian
crisis amply demonstrated such participation is by no means smooth nor does it guarantee
equitable gains for all countries and peoples,"the report says.
The study is among several to be examined by members of ESCAP attending the 56th
Commission in Bangkok, 1-7 June. The theme of the Commission is: Development through
globalization and partnership in the 21st Century: An Asia Pacific Perspective for integrating
developing countries and economies in transition into the international trading system on a fair
and equitable basis.
The World Trade Organization can play a pivotal role, the study states, in the effective integration
of developing countries into the world trading system by " promoting an international trade regime
that takes adequate care of the special needs of developing countries."
A lot more needs to be done by WTO before the integration of developing countries can be said
to be fair and equitable. Although the Third WTO Ministerial Conference failed to launch a new
round of multilateral trade negotiations, the overall paradigm shift in development policy makes
the new round likely sooner rather than later.
The study finds that for a new round to be truly helpful for developing countries consensus must
be built along several issues and they include:
--Bringing the dispute settlement mechanism within the financial reach of poor countries.
--Strengthening special and differential provisions of various agreements by making "best effort"
clauses(to do their best not to hurt developing countries) mandatory and extending transitory
periods where necessary.
--Reducing tariff peaks and tariff escalation on exports from developing countries.
--Making meaningful the liberalization of trade in agriculture and textiles/clothing.
--Enhancing developed countries' commitments to allow market access in services that developing
countries are better placed to supply.
--Doing away with "WTO plus" conditions for accession and automatically extending the
provisions for special and differential treatment to developing countries in the accession process.
The study recommends that the next round of trade talks should aim at improving the quality of
integration of least developed, developing countries and economies in transition. "But if
negotiations follow past patterns (hard bargaining motivated by special interests within developed
countries, with too little attention paid to the interests of the developing countries) the round could
strengthen the hands of those in the developing world who resist outward orientation and market-oriented reforms."