Progressing towards a just future through the MDGS: what is the meaning of Equity in the trading system?
In the trade policy area MDG 8 Develop a global partnership for development is the most relevant. Despite important efforts, MDGs' implementation is proving very complex and it is falling way behind schedule. This is also reflected in the enduring difficulties current round of multilateral trade negotiations: the Doha Development Agenda. Hence, two key questions come to the fore. Do statements such as the Millennium Declaration, and in particular their call for equity in the trading system, have any (policy) impact? And even more basically, do they 'mean' anything? And, if they do, what is such meaning, or perhaps more normatively, what should it be? The paper attempts to provide some tentative replies to such questions. It argues that negotiations especially in the Doha Round have registered limited progress and that it would be necessary to move decisively in the direction of opening developed country markets to products, services and workers of developing countries, encouraging and supporting appropriate and paced liberalization and domestic reform efforts in poor countries, increasing their export capacity, while preserving their ability to pursue human development policies. But more fundamentally it stresses that trade liberalization commitments of this kind may not be enough to achieve an 'equitable' trading system truly able to deliver benefits commensurate to the development needs of all its participants. An 'equitable' system could not but put people with their rights and needs as its focus of attention. This would mean unequivocally according instrumental value to trade liberalization and intrinsic value and hence priority to sustainable human development.
Americo Beviglia Zampetti
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