Carrot and stick

AN UNEQUAL TREATY: WORLD TRADING ORDER AFTER GATT Muchkund Dubey . New Age International Limited . February, 1996 . Price Rs 125

By Raksha Kushalani
Published: Wednesday 31 July 1996

the book in review is a survey of the balance sheet for India from the Uruguay Round of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (gatt) negotiations. Dubey proceeds chapter-wise to analyse the important agreements signed in the Uruguay Round like the General Agreement on Trade in Services (gats), Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights System (trips) and negotiations regarding the Trade Related Investment Measures. The title of the book is indeed an apt one because throughout the book, Dubey provides evidence of the fact that the Uruguay Round process was unfair to the developing world, with the developed countries having managed agreements like the trips and gats, to suit their own needs and conditions.

Dubey, a former bureaucrat, bases his analysis on strong grounds as he goes back to the very origins of the Uruguay Round of negotiations, to see why it was pushed in the first place. By doing so, he puts in clearer perspective the weak position and bargaining power of the developing countries. He scrutinises some provisions like the phasing out of the Multi-fibre Agreement, which was seen as one of the biggest achievements for the Third World. Dubey has brought to light the loopholes in these agreements to show how even these ostensibly positive developments could do the developing countries harm.

What are some of the critical choices that we face now that India has partici pated in the Uruguay Round? Accession to the inequitable trading order that has emerged from it, is a logical corollary of the liberalisation and globalisation policy we are following for our economic development. For us to retain or modify the freedom of making decisions on critical areas related to the economy, it is important to modify this policy. The basic modification required is to reduce the extent of our dependence on foreign markets and foreign private capital for realising our development goals. We need a development policy based on an alternative paradigm.

The reader is driven to the conclusion that the Uruguay Round which was proposed and pushed forward by developed countries like the us at a time when they were facing a decline in productivity and competetiveness has exposed the developing world to a highly qualified and only partially liberal multilateral international system. The book in question would be particularly relevent for those generally interested in knowing what India should do next and in particular the agenda it should be preparing for the World Trade Organization's first ministerial conference in Singapore, to be held in December this year.
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