Ten Years of WTO: Subordinating Development to Free Trade by Kwa Eileen

An assessment of the role and impact of the WTO and its failure to address the needs of developing countries.

Aileen Kwa, June 2005

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Summary :

The WTO has been hailed as an achievement for multilateralism. Yet its impact on the world’s poor has been overwhelmingly negative. Despite its anti-development agenda, it continues to be seen as an important multilateral institution, whereas this unquestioning faith in « multilateralism » is counter-productive. Despite their occasional ability to come together and challenge the industrialized nations, more often developing countries have succumbed to political pressures and divide and rule tactics by the major powers, or to their own internal contradictions. WTO’s litany of failures includes: getting the fundamentals terribly wrong: the myths of integration and exports; dismantling developing countries’ agricultural sector; destroying the industrial base of the developing world; erosion of basic services for the poor, and ensuring the technological dominance of northern corporations in intellectual property.

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