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The Emperor's New Clothes: Why Rich Countries Want a WTO Investment Agreement

November 3, 2010

Despite an overcrowded agenda and the lack of progress on matters crucial to development, rich countries, especially members of the European Union, are pushing for the launch of investment negotiations at the ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Cancun in September 2003. When properly regulated, foreign investment can contribute to sustainable development. However, the proposed WTO agreement on investment will establish rules that developing countries do not need and cannot afford, enhancing investors' 'rights' while undermining governments' capacity to pursue pro-development policies. This is why Oxfam calls on WTO members to reject the launch of investment negotiations in Cancun.

Dumping: The Beginning of the End? Implications of the ruling in the Brazil/US cotton dispute

November 3, 2010

Despite their WTO commitments to reduce trade-distorting subsidies, the European Union and the United States have used loopholes and creative accounting to continue dumping products on world markets. In the case of US cotton subsidies, the dispute settlement body of the WTO concluded that such practices hurt developing countries and are in violation of WTO rules. This landmark case gives hope to millions of impoverished cotton farmers in West Africa. And it might be the beginning of the end for US and EU dumping.

Bitter Coffee: How the poor are paying for the slump in coffee prices

October 29, 2010

Like millions of other vulnerable farmers and labourers involved in coffee production, his livelihood has been devastated by a collapse in international prices. Today, world prices for coffee have fallen to their lowest-ever level in real terms. Failure to reverse current trends will have devastating consequences across the developing world. The price slump has created some winners. Transnational companies and 'designer coffee' retailers are posting record profits as the price of their main raw material slumps. Over the past three years the export price of coffee as a proportion of the retail price has fallen by half, to less than seven per cent. This is good news for some. As a recent Nestlé document on its coffee-trading performance states: 'trading profits increased ... and margins improved thanks to favourable commodity prices.' The bad news is that corporate gain is consigning some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people to extreme poverty.

Boxing Match in Agricultural Trade: Will WTO negotiations knock out the worlds poorest farmers?

October 29, 2010

Agricultural trade could play a key role in the fight against poverty. But in practice the rules which govern world agricultural trade benefit the rich rather than the poor. Rich countries spend vast sums of money protecting the interests of their producers, while at the same time forcing poor countries to open their markets to subsidised imports. Achieving an equitable outcome from the WTO agricultural negotiations will be a litmus test of the so-called Doha Development Round. Developing countries should not sign a new agricultural agreement if their vital development needs are not adequately addressed.

One Minute to Midnight: Will WTO Negotiations in July Deliver a Meaningful Agreement?

July 1, 2004

One week away from a crucial meeting of the General Council of the World Trade Organisation, time is running out for the Doha round. Almost a year after the ministerial conference in Cancun and three years after the Doha round, negotiations have gone in circles because of the continuing deadlock on key issues such as agricultural reform. The July framework negotiations represent a crucial juncture for rich and poor countries alike. Any dilution of the Doha development objectives to accommodate developed countries' self-interested mercantilism would damage the prospects of poor countries of the South. On the other hand, a failure would further weaken the multilateral trading system. Oxfam calls on WTO members to agree to a meaningful, pro-development framework by the end of July 2004.