Pascal’s trade pensees

Officially, the world hasn’t given up on the World Trade Organisation’s Doha round of negotiations, but no one is holding their breath. It’s now entering its twelfth year and success seems even further away now than when it began.

Of course, the earlier round of global trade talks, the Uruguay round, took eight years to complete and didn’t have to face a global financial crisis, a set of emerging powers and near-recessions in three of the four biggest trading nations (the European Union being counted as one entity). So perhaps we shouldn’t give up all hope.

In theory, a WTO round can last from here to eternity so the round could remain open until circumstances change.

But what is the key cause of the Doha stalemate?

Pascal Lamy, the outgoing director-general of the WTO, was in New Delhi as a guest of Pradeep Mehta’s Consumer Unity and Trust Society International and gave his view. In his view, the main problem was the emerging powers like China, India, Brazil and so on.

The international system didn’t really know how to fit them in and they, on their own part, weren’t sure what kind of multilateral animal they themselves were.

Skipping his views on the globalization governance deficit and multi-localised global production – the kind of weltanschauung stuff that French bureaucrats like to put out, Lamy said the “gridlocks lies in the question of this balance – the emerging markets and China versus the United States, Japan and the EU.”

As Lamy explained, “the West says that emerging countries have emerged,” so they should accept the trade disciplines and rules of the developed world. The emerging countries feel this cannot be. “While China and India are not Senegal and Botswana, they are also clearly no the US or the EU.”

And this inability to find a seat for them on a two-speed cycle like the WTO “is where the system is clogged.”

Thus the US tells China that it must lower its tariff on manufactured goods, says Lamy. China offers to cut its present 10% rate to 6%. But the US says it must go to Western levels, 0.1%. China, says Lamy, refuses to accept “commitments equal to other Western nations.”

For the emerging countries this is not just about WTO commitments, says Lamy, in the back of their head is the fear that if they accept developed world disciplines in trade then this will extended to other international regimes like climate change, intellectual property and so on. And this Beijing, New Delhi, Brasilia and Jakarta cannot agree to.

Lamy had a nice phrase to summarize this. “Are emerging countries rich nations which happen to still have a lot of poor people? Or are they poor countries that happen to have sizeable numbers of rich people? If the first, then the main principle guiding them in trade talks would be reciprocity with a little flexibility. If the second, then it would flexibility with a little reciprocity.”

No one can figure this out, so gridlock ensues. Not only in the WTO, but also climate change and almost any major multilateral negotiations.

Lamy, who has only until this summer in the WTO hot seat, proposed a three-point solution to this dilemma. One, “the emerging countries should accept that as they develop they will increase the level of their commitments to those of Western countries. That they will slowly rise upwards to this point.”

Two, rich countries should accept their responsibility in creating and building in a lot of unfairness, especially in agriculture, into the existing trade rules.

“Inequities remain,” says Lamy, and need to be acknowledged by the West. Three, both of these groups should work together to build the capacities of the least developed countries.

The first one would be a perfect solution. I am not sure how easy it would be to implement. The emerging countries come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, they are far from homogeneous.

The result would be a potentially very confusing 50-speed bicycle. The second would be a nice moral confession of sin, but would be almost impossible to convert into actual policy. How long has everyone railed against the nonsense of the tariffs and subsidies that distort the farm trade – without any effect? The last sounds like an overseas aid programme run by 30 governments.

However, Lamy is right to argue that the emerging countries have adopted “the software of global capitalism.” All of them more or less follow the paths of economic growth that were laid by the Western governments. “They can’t say ‘I buy the system but I don’t buy the rules,’” he said.

And I don’t get the impression that any of them really stray too far from these rules. China is hardly the rogue state of Mao’s era. India has irreversibly shed its economic isolationism. The problem is less the rules than the commitments to free trade, cooperative security and the like which require coherent domestic policies and administrative capacity of a certain quality. Those are, for many emerging countries, still roads under construction.

Time, perhaps, for the emerging countries to talk about themselves about this problem. The global gridlock blocks their own maturation process, feeding on itself. Learning about each other may help them define themselves and determine how many extra speeds the world cycle needs to add.

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  • Geetha

    WEF is grossly Euro-centric


  • Sumit Bose

    @Rajesh, this worm is a “ghatiyya Taqqiyya” #1. This space about 18 months ago would be choc-o-block with others of his level spewing venom against Hindus (quoting discarded manu’s smirti) and eulogizing with utter lies the “religion of peace”. Mercifully, the “cowardly” Hindus have stepped in and now we have those Zakir Naik “inspired” spin-masters beat a hasty retreat when slapped with translations from the verses and from Bukhari’s collection. Now even the fig-leaf of “context” has been blown away conclusively.
    As Hindu’s had to pay Jizyia during the brutal misrule of the Slave dynasty scoundrels and later from Aurangzeb’s time, there is a very important narrative that this Taqqiyya has skillfully masked, there were huge mass conversions taking place, not just because of the punitive taxation on Hindus, but because Hindus themselves could legally absolve repayment to any person, just on becoming a Muslim and leveling blasphemy charges and the creditor would be lucky to save his skin by “honouring himself by accepting Islam”.
    The only reprieve that Indians got was during the 52 years of Akbar, 22 years of Jahangir and 32 years of Shah Jahan, once Aurangzeb ascended the throne, it was “open season” on Hindus once again.
    So, now that these Indian converts are able to draw benefits from Modi’s formula of 35% of revenue for govt expenditure and 65% for development, the economical gains accrued renders the Indian converts favourably disposed to Modi. The Kashmir situation is so similiar, the “insurgey” had died a natural death by 2008, it was revived by paying “stone throwers” with counterfiet indian currency routed through Nepal.Once the money trail dies out, most people want to live in peace, inspite of the invocations of violence to kuffurs.



    well said dadabhai! well said! zia is a very p00r quality taqqiya master!! :)


    shenoybv Reply:

    V.S. Naipaul, himself a Brahmin whose ancestors had settled abroad centuries ago, gained international celebrity status when he wrote the book, Wounded Civilisation portraying “Hindu India” as a stupid, idiotic country ruled by his own jatwalas.
    While he gained name and fame from his literary achievements, his jatwalas in India became furious and denounced him as a third rate writer because he honestly condemned Brahmins as topclass frauds. This made the Brahmin in Naipaul to mellow and realise as he grew old that if he continued jabbing at his jatwalas the “Jews of India” would prevail over Jewish-controlled Nobel Foundation to deny him the Nobel prize. The Brahmin in Naipaul prevailed and he started praising the Brahmins. By then it was too late. Naipaul got the award after he started praising Brahmins. The Brahmin in him killed the genius in him.
    Beef-eating Brahmin: We are reproducing a passage from his book, Wounded Civilisation, in which he exposed the Brahmin hypocrisy and dwelt on the strong anti-Brahmin fury prevailing in India. Naipaul was impressed with the novel of a fellow Karnataka Brahmin writer who too in his younger days married a Christian girl, ate beef, sang Lohia lullabies and the Brahmin media boosted him sky-high and hailed him as “socialist savant”.
    Topclass frauds: Soon the Brahmin in him prevailed and turned him into a “Socialist Brahmin” who is more dangerous than a “Sacred Brahmin”. (Read our book, Socialist Brahmin vs. Sacred Brahmin,
    His Kannada book, Samskara, Naipaul says, very beautifully portrays the “Brahminic barbarity” and the Brahmins as topclass frauds.
    The problem with the Brahmin is very serious. No Brahmin has so far been able to get over this dotage — the victim of his own sick society.
    During his younger days the Brahmin is fired by the youthful idealism and he turns a marxist, naxalite, maoist, anarchist, atheist and what not. That is how M.N. Roy, the Bengali Brahmin, became founder of the Indian Communist Party and advocated wholesale Hindu conversion to Islam to liberate India from Brahminism
    S.A. Dange, Chairman of the Communist Party, as he grew old came to the conclusion that “all the wisdom of Karl Marx came from the Vedanta”, for which he was expelled from the party itself. The Marathi Brahmin died a vedantist.
    Look at the mischievous Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer who fell in love with Dalits and successfully duped both Dalits and Muslims but continued to mouth socialist slogans.
    The “famous” E.M.S. Namboodiripad died as an orthodox marxist Brahmin (: Cheated Dalits, BCs, Muslims & destroyed Kerala”).
    Jawaharlal Nehru, the fire-eating socialist, out of love for his Kashmiri Brahmins, fought a war with Pakistan for the sake of his jatwalas and permanently put the Himalayan state in thrishanku swarga —despite the UN verdict that Kashmir is a “disputed territory”.
    Caste above the country: We have not came across one Brahmin who has been honest with his conscience because the sanskara does not permit him to go against his jati. This sanskara is hanging right over his head like a dagger and throughout he lives with this fear. That is why to him his caste is greater than the country. Show us one Brahmin who has gone against the sanskara. This
    is the tragic story of a Brahmin which Naipaul relates here


  • Sumit Bose

    @Shah one could easily counter you: how fanatically sanctimonious? Today any Muslim convert may or may not pay zakat, hence we dont hear any complaints; sadly, that option was denied to Hindus, they had to pay up, at the cost of confiscation of property or assets, depending upon each case as was determined by the Sultan’s revenue collector.
    Did you know that each of the Slave dynasty scoundrels, right upto Akbar had to pay 1/5th of all tax collected as the “Apostle’s share” to the Khalifate, first at Baghdad and later to the Ottomans.. Emperor Akbar terminated this huge outflow of revenue and rejected Islam, setting up his own religion named “Din-e-Illahi”.
    It was from these records obtained from the Khalifate that Queen Victoria sent the famous letter to Emperor Akbar, which recorded that India generated 23% of the World’s GDP. Sadly, Shah Jahan restarted paying the “Apostle’s share” to the Ottoman Khalifate, and financial bleeding of India restarted.
    Secondly, did you even know that 760 odd Muslims lost their lives, along with 350 odd Hindus in the post-Godhra riots.It is now accepted “normal” to brand that as “Modi’s genocide”, but your slective outrage is disgusting, In the Bhagalpur riots over 2000 Muslims died, when Lallo Prasad Yadav was the RJD supremo, but no one accused him of “genocide”. That is just how fair-minded you are. I can go on and on, but suffice it to say, you are not concerned about law and order and loss of any life, because you just want a trip NM who has been able to convince the most determined skeptics , but not the Jihadi and Pseudo-secular elements, that good governance enhances the quality of life of all, irrespective of one’s religion.


    Satyavarta Reply:

    Your so long write up did not answer Shah’s short question. Are not Indian muslims paying tax to Indian government and they not complain while paying this, because they know it is required to run the government which in turn will take care of our security, education and lot of administrative needs. Did not the muslim citizens of Nepal pay tax to the lone Hindu state of nepal till few years back? Why are you reducing the number of muslims killed in Gujarat genocide of 2002? And Bhagalpur anti muslim riots happened in 1989 when Congress was ruling at centre as well as Bihar. Please correct your info.


    Sumit Bose Reply:

    @Satyavarta, your mindset is devoid of “satya”. No Muslim is “forced/coerced” to pay Zakat, at the cost of confiscation of property. As mentioned by me above, it was optional, and there has never been in Independent India any government agency that collects Zakat.
    So much for your spin, attempting to cast away the punitive burden Hindus had to bear for nearly 7 centuries the brutality of Muslim invaders. That is the the second most important reason we have so many converts who are yet brain-numb to consider themselves as Pseudo-Arabs living in our midst.
    Many thanks for correcting my mis-information, that makes our beloved late Rajiv Gandhi overseeing not one but two mass-killings and no one ever thought it fit to term him a “mass-murderer”. Your selective vision of ’satya’ is impressive!


  • josh

    yes – if congress stays in power. you will get equality and truth through a BJP administration.


  • Bystander

    A big part of Madni’s problem is – he has somehow bought into the notion that Mr. Modi is doing a favour to Muslims in Gujarat as there have been no riots past so many years and is subtly playing to the chorus. This fits rather well with the “Modi ji laao Desh bachao” campaign. A campaign based on dubious premise.


  • Abhi

    Zia should tell his friends in Bangladesh that attacks on HIndu temples in that country show the magnanimity of Islam and have repercussions in India.


  • Rampris

    Dear ZIA HAQ ,

    in case you happen to read my comments you can introspect on my following questions 1) India for the last 66 Years Post INDEPENDENCE except for 6 Years of NDA & 3 Years of JP has been RULED by so called Secular Party/Parties. Why is that the conditions of common Muslims remain so pathetic? worse than other community. Its neither BJP or MODI who has ruled this larger part? 2) even in the last 8 years of UPA rule by the so called Secular Party how much of the social welfare program has reached the poor muslims? Still you want the average poor Muslims to be driven by the DIKTATS of clergy & the liberal middle class muslims by the so called JOURNALIST like you to BELIEVE that BJP or NDA is evil rest all secular party are angels. I think if average Muslims needs uplift themselves socio economically they need to take their own call on whom they think can really help them in improving their living condition rather than follow the Diktats of clergy nor the half baked liberals who just want to pocket their own share of fortune by siding with establishment & PROPAGATE lopsided stories To Put it in your own words “Relying on the so called Secular Party alone would be to fall one sandwich short of a picnic” which most of the Muslims have done & are sleeping hungry


    Anonymous Reply:

    Zia celebrates killing of Hindus in India, Pak and BD but keeps howling when some muslims terrorists are tackled.

    He is a closet Jihadi.


    Bystander Reply:

    Liar. Show where Zia celebrates those killings.


  • Anonymous

    Why only 35 crores..why not 135 crores? You pakistan has only 18 crores muslims…


  • Faulitics

    Maybe he sympathizes with them or atleast feels that it is “justified”.


  • Faulitics

    :-) . Zia uses the word “creative” when describing the deobands stance against Pakistan. He uses that term in a negative connotation. So taking a stance against creation of Pakistan is negative in zia’s POV but he still lives in India. He is very transparent. His taqqiya is not “creative” enough. He needs to work on it.