World Bank, WTO Links Strengthened

14 June 2000

Developing countries’ exports, particularly agriculture and textiles, should have comprehensive and predictable duty-and quota-free access to rich countries markets if they are to benefit from outward-oriented reforms, concluded the Development Committee.

Ministers emphasised that countries should ensure that trade policy is integrated into a comprehensive development framework that includes necessary complementary reforms and investment in institutions, infrastructure and social programmes. They also reiterated support for Bank, IMF and WTO cooperation to develop programmes for capacity building for trade, including through an improved Integrated Framework for Trade Related Assistance for the Least Developed Countries.

NGOs are concerned that there is a disjoint between processes for developing poverty reduction strategies which encourage policy setting at the national level and trade policy which continues to be regarded as outside this process and is set at the international level.

Meanwhile, the World Bank is introducing the failed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) through the back door. In Romania, the Bank has said that further loans will be made only on condition that the government does not discriminate against or give special concessions to individual foreign investors. The move comes after the Romanian government gave tax and other concessions to Renault after revoking concessions it had earlier given to Daewoo.