jb wall st - Appeared in the Wall Street Journal Longer...

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Appeared in the Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2005 Longer version appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, January 2005 The Truth About Trade By Jagdish Bhagwati Mr. Bhagwati, University Professor at Columbia and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, is the author of "In Defense of Globalization" (Oxford, 2004). He has been the economic policy adviser to the GATT and an external adviser to the WTO.
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Yesterday, the director general of the World Trade Organization, Supachai Panitchpakdi, released a report by a small expert group consisting of eight members (of which I was one). He had commissioned the group in June 2003 to offer an analysis of the WTO's working in the past and to offer a blueprint of where we ought to take the institution in the future. The timing of the report could not be more appropriate: 2005 is the 10th anniversary of the WTO. At the same time, the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations under WTO auspices is at a critical juncture. Besides, Dr. Supachai's successor in September will need all the guidance he can get if he is to provide the leadership that the institution needs. With critiques and controversies plaguing the WTO from Seattle to Cancun, it has become necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff. The latter mostly relates to the mistaken rejections of the advantages of freer trade; the former to the legitimate concerns about the WTO's functioning. The Chaff: Assaults on Freer Trade Sadly, the critics who are most off the mark, and indeed off the wall, are to be found among the well-meaning NGOs. Enormously rich charities have now turned to agitating about trade issues with much energy but little understanding, prompting the witticism- when Oxfam agitators at the WTO meeting in Cancun in 2002 were parading with G-8 masks-that these were a bunch of dummies masquerading as another bunch of dummies. Oxfam's annual spending is over $350 million; that of Action Aid nearly $140 million: these are now very big businesses. They are under the same pressure to diversify into new areas of public policy (regardless of expertise) as they pursue fundraising opportunities as are the corporations keen to diversify into new industries as they reach out for profits. These charities have unfortunately signed on to several fallacies about trade that do serious harm to the cause of the poor nations. Thus, they regularly allege that poor countries suffer from systematic rich-country
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jb wall st - Appeared in the Wall Street Journal Longer...

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