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Can multilateral trade work for the poor?

By Robin Koshy

Protectionism, self-reliance and village republics are not enough to lift 1.3 billion of the world’s poor out of absolute poverty. There is sufficient empirical evidence to demonstrate that trade can be a powerful catalyst for poverty reduction, that free trade with fairer policies will benefit the world's poor more than aid or charity. The problem is that World Trade Organisation negotiations and global trade are far from free and fair, with the balance skewed in favour of powerful trading blocs like the US and EU and against poorer nations


A brief history of the WTO

By Prabhash Ranjan

The principle of non-discrimination was meant to be the cornerstone of the World Trade Organisation and the multilateral trading regime. But ten years down the line, it is clear that the trade rules favour developed countries, and the promise of greater market access for developing countries has not been sufficiently realised


Protection for the rich; free play of market forces for the poor

By Parshuram Ray

The most striking aspect of the farming crisis in India is that its severity is directly proportionate to the degree of integration with international trade and global markets


Subsidising suicides

By Jaideep Hardikar

Cotton has become a symbol of the inequities and distortions of global trade, demonstrating how agricultural subsidies in developed countries devastate farmers in developing countries


Building a global partnership for development

By Martin Khor

Goal 8 of the MDGs is about building a global partnership for development, an external economic environment that is favourable for development. From this perspective, the prevention of development-distorting rules, measures, policies and approaches should be the overriding concern of the WTO


The MDGs and the free trade mantra

By Rahul Goswami

The Millennium Development Goals address targets and percentages without relating these to the effect of structural inequalities, denial of social justice, economic inequities and the imposition of adverse policies. How then can the MDGs usher in a just new world order?


The decline and fall of the Kerala coconut

By P N Venugopal

The coconut was once the equivalent of cash in Kerala's rural economy. Not any more. Wild fluctuations in coconut prices and cheap imports of palm oil have cast a dark shadow over Kerala's coconut farmers


'Instead of Special Economic Zones, why not Special Agricultural Zones?'

By Meena Menon

Resentment against the Mumbai Special Economic Zone has been building up in Pen, Uran and Panvel talukas of Raigad district, where over 10,000 hectares of land across 45 villages are being acquired. Thousands have filed objections to the land acquisition notices, asking why their lands and livelihoods should be sacrificed to promote world trade


SEZs: Economic or exploitation zones?

By M Suchitra

Trade liberalisation and the proliferation of Special Economic Zones are expected to provide livelihood opportunities for thousands. This employment is expected to balance the huge revenue losses, large-scale displacement of farmers and regional development disparities resulting from SEZs. But what are the working conditions that are actually being created in these zones?


Huligamma and Big Mac

By Nandana Reddy

Does trade liberalisation affect investments in children's health and education? There is growing evidence that children from families denied livelihood security, and deprived of the most basic social benefits, are forced into child labour and a precarious existence in urban centres


A looming public health crisis?

By Prabhash Ranjan

With effect from January 1, 2005, India has had to amend its patent law and introduce product patenting in pharmaceuticals. This is likely to reduce access to affordable medicines, especially for the poor. But why has India failed to exploit the existing flexibilities in the TRIPS Agreement that could have protected the public interest?


The struggle for affordable medicines

By Chan Park

India, which amended its patent laws for TRIPS-compliance in 2005, introduced a clause to ensure that pharmaceuticals did not block the entry of low-cost generic drugs. A year ago this clause blocked Novartis' patent application for its anti-cancer drug Gleevec. Now, in a major case that will have a profound effect on the affordability of essential medicines in India, Novartis is challenging this unique Indian provision


More media, less democracy

By Manfred Kops

This article explores the implications of attempts by the World Trade Organisation to include audiovisual media, especially broadcast programmes, into the General Agreement in Trade and Services (GATS) and thereby promote international free trade in audiovisual services


Marginalising the marginalised

By Asha Bee Abraham

The WTO erodes women's right not only to the security of a regular meal, but also involvement in decision-making around food production and agricultural development


The alternative: Community autonomy over food and seeds

By P V Satheesh

In a globalised, mechanised, transnational-controlled industrial food and seed regime, the Deccan Development Society's women's sanghams have demonstrated that it is possible to set up autonomous, localised food and seed systems


Trade liberalisation: The new threat to Kerala's fishermen

By N P Chekkutty

Trade liberalisation has had a severe impact on Kerala's fisherfolk. With no organised lobby to fight for their rights, the fisherfolk have been fighting among themselves, leaving the wealth of the sea to be plundered by middlemen and the global marine industry. But this August, traditional and mechanised fishermen across caste and communal divides, came together to fight the 62-day ban on monsoon trawling