On 20 April, the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank launched a working group on international trade. The group was decided upon during a videoconference meeting on trade, involving parliamentarians from several regions, as well as World Bank representatives. The official goal of the group is to “promote dialogue on trade, both within national parliaments and between parliamentarians from North and South.” British MP Hugh Bayley (Labour), member of the International Development Select Committee, has agreed to co-chair the group. A co-chair is to be selected from the south.
The World Bank task manager for the group, Jonathan Murphy, has indicated that the group is likely to put pressure on developed country negotiating positions “so that there is real movement on ensuring access to northern markets.” Murphy agreed however that it would also be appropriate for the group to scrutinise the Bank’s work in trade. “That would be up to the working group members and I expect will be discussed in the development of an action plan.”
The working group will be open to any interested MP, with attempts made “to ensure geographic balance” and a “representation of different perspectives.” Murphy stressed the group’s openness to differing viewpoints on trade: “Multilateral trade and financial organisations tend to promote unqualified trade openness. However there are many experts, even within these organizations, who believe that infant industry protection is the best and a proven way to a modern economic base. Parliamentary debates on trade should include consideration of both these, and other perspectives.”
Parliamentary debates on trade should include other perspectives
The working group’s first step will be to “determine desired activities and then figure out what resources are needed and where to get them.” A date for the next meeting has not been set.