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Globalization for Development: the International Trade Perspective
Report by UNCTAD, Division on International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities, 2008
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U N I T E D N AT I O N S C O N F E R E N C E O N T R A D E A N D D E V E L O P M E N T
UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT
GLOBALIZATION FOR DEVELOPMENT:
THE INTERNATIONAL TRADE PERSPECTIVE
New York and Geneva, 2008
ii Globalization for Development
The designations employed and the presentation of the material do not imply the
expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the United Nations Secretariat
concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area, or of its authorities, or
concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
Material in this publication may be freely quoted or reprinted, but acknowledgement is
requested, together with a reference to the document number. It would be appreciated if a
copy of the publication containing the quotation or reprint were sent to the UNCTAD
This publication provides analyses on some of the emerging trade and development
opportunities and challenges for all countries, and developing countries in particular, in the
context of rapid globalization. It builds on the Report of the Secretary-General of UNCTAD
to UNCTAD XII entitled Globalization for development: Opportunities and challenges
UNCTAD’s Division on International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities
prepared the publication.
UNITED NATIONS PUBLICATION
© Copyright United Nations 2008
All rights reserved
A: TRADE-DRIVEN GLOBALIZATION AND QUALITATIVE INTEGRATION ..........................vii
B: NEW OPPORTUNITIES, REALITIES AND PERSISTENT CHALLENGES..............................vii
C: UNCTAD’S CONTRIBUTION.........................................................................................................ix
SYSTEMIC EVOLUTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL TRADING SYSTEM ....................1
1.1. The evolving multilateral trading system ....................................................................1
1.2. The multilateral trading system and the WTO ............................................................2
1.3. Continuing challenges of WTO accession...................................................................3
1.4. Trade Preferences ........................................................................................................3
1.5. Growing importance of non-tariff barriers and standards ...........................................6
1.6. Mainstreaming development into the multilateral trading system ..............................7
1.7. Proliferation of regional trade agreements ..................................................................8
1.8. Trade adjustment issues...............................................................................................9
1.9. Trade and Gender ........................................................................................................9
1.10. Fostering an enabling environment: A fairer and more open trading system .........10
CHAPTER II ............................................................................................................................15
THE IMPACT OF INCREASED INTERNATIONAL TRADE DYNAMISM......................15
2.1. The growth and current dynamism of international trade .........................................15
2.2. Developing countries in international trade...............................................................16
2.3. New and dynamic sectors of world trade ..................................................................18
2.4. Analyzing trade and development performance: The TDI........................................19
2.5. Fostering an enabling environment: Easing market access, market entry and
releasing the competitive productive capacities of developing countries ........................20
CHAPTER III ...........................................................................................................................23
THE DYNAMIC SOUTH AND SOUTH-SOUTH TRADE AND ECONOMIC
3.1. Dynamic South and South-South trade dynamism....................................................23
3.2. Growth of intraregional and interregional trade ........................................................24
3.3. Trade between developing countries and countries with economies in transition ....26
3.4. Fostering an enabling environment: Development-transmitting South and South-
RE-LAUNCHING THE COMMODITY AGENDA ...............................................................33
4.1. Opportunities offered by the recent commodity boom..............................................33
4.2. Looming challenges for commodities .......................................................................34
4.3. Commodity, poverty reduction and development .....................................................34
4.4. Fostering an enabling environment: Commodity-based development strategy ........35
CHAPTER V ............................................................................................................................39
SERVICES – THE NEW TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT FRONTIER?.............................39
5.1. The increasing importance of the services economy.................................................39
5.2. FDI inflows and off-shoring services ........................................................................41
5.3. Fostering an enabling environment: Meaningful and pro-development commitments
in services liberalization and building competitive services productive capacities .........41
iv Globalization for Development
UNLEASHING THE DEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL OF LABOUR MOBILITY ..............45
6.1. The reality of labour mobility and development gains..............................................45
6.2. Maximizing the gains from labour mobility..............................................................47
6.3. Fostering an enabling environment: Leveraging human resources in trade..............48
CHAPTER VII .........................................................................................................................51
ENERGY, TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT ..........................................................................51
7.1. The problematic of recent high energy prices ...........................................................51
7.2. Dealing with oil price rise .........................................................................................53
7.3. Energy security in the global market context ............................................................54
7.4. Fostering an enabling environment: Realizing trade gains from the energy sector ..55
CHAPTER VIII ........................................................................................................................59
TRADE, ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT .................................59
8.1. Trade, climate change and sustainable development.................................................59
8.2. Biodiversity, traditional knowledge and trade...........................................................62
8.3. New environmental, health and food safety requirements and market access ..........63
8.4. Developing environmentally preferable products, services and production method 64
8.5. International trade agreements for managing the trade and environment interface ..65
8.6. Fostering an enabling environment: Promoting trade and environmental
ENSURING FAIR COMPETITION........................................................................................69
9.1. Trade, competition and global enterprises.................................................................69
9.2. Effects and implications of the wave of mergers and acquisitions............................70
9.3. Fostering an enabling environment: Promoting competition and controlling anti-
competitive practices ........................................................................................................71
CHAPTER X ............................................................................................................................75
AID FOR TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT – BUILDING CAPACITY ...............................75
10.1. Meeting adjustment costs and building productive capacities ................................75
10.2. Fostering an enabling environment: Implementing the Aid for Trade initiative.....75
UNCTAD'S ROLE: PROMOTING QUALITATIVE TRADE INTEGRATION...................79
11.1. Overview .................................................................................................................79
11.2. Facilitating beneficial integration into the international trading system .................80
11.3. Sustaining the ascent of the South and South-South trade ......................................82
11.4. Re-launching the commodity agenda ......................................................................83
11.5. Developing services economy and trade .................................................................84
11.6. Unleashing the development potential of labour mobility ......................................85
11.7. Promoting energy trade and security .......................................................................85
11.8. Addressing trade and development aspects of trade and environment....................86
11.9. Ensuring fair competition ........................................................................................88
11.10. Implementing the Aid for Trade initiative.............................................................88
ACP African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States
AfT Aid for trade
AGOA African growth and Opportunity Act of USA
ANZCERTA Australia-New Zealand Closer economic Relations Trade Agreement
APEC Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation
ASEAN Association of South East Asian Nations
CARICOM Caribbean Common Market and Economy
COMESA Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
EBA Everything-but-arms initiative of the EU
ECDC Economic cooperation among developing countries
EHFSRs Environmental, health and food-safety requirements
EU European Union
FDI Foreign direct investment
GATS General Agreement on Trade in Services (WTO)
GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
GDP Gross domestic product
GDG Green house gas
GSP Generalized system of preferences
GSTP Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries
ICT Information and communication technology
LDCs Least Developed Countries
LNG Liquefied natural gas
MDGs Millennium Development Goals
MERCOSUR Southern Common Market
MTS Multilateral trading system
NAFTA North American Free Trade Area
NAMA Non agricultural market access
NTBs Non-tariff barriers
ODA Official development assistance
OECD Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
PVS Private voluntary standards
RTAs Regional trade agreements
SAARC South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
SADC Southern African Development Community
SDT Special and differential treatment
SMEs Small and medium scale enterprises
TDI Trade and Development Index
TNCs Transnational corporations
UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
WTO World Trade Organization
vi Globalization for Development
A. TRADE-DRIVEN GLOBALIZATION AND QUALITATIVE
Globalization is increasing the integration of national markets and the interdependence of
countries worldwide for a wide range of goods, services, and commodities. In the past 30 years,
international trade flows have expanded dramatically and, generally, at a rate faster than global output,
with a doubling of the value of trade in a 10-year period since the mid-1990s. In 2006, the dollar value
of world merchandise exports reached US$11.98 trillion (as compared to about US$5.17 trillion in
1995), and that of commercial services exports rose to US$2.71 trillion, thus raising total world trade
to over US$14 trillion.
Several factors have played an important role in the recent expansion of trade, the growing
integration of economies, and the increasing contribution of trade to development. These include the
liberalization of tariffs and other barriers to trade; foreign direct investment through trade and
investment negotiations and agreements; autonomous unilateral structural reforms; technological
innovations in transport and communications; international solidarity through supportive measures
(like trade preferences); and the strategic use of policies, experimentation and innovation. Trade-
driven globalization is also manifested in the changing geography of the world economy today. Its key
features include the emergence of a dynamic South as an additional (to the North) motor for world
trade and new investment, and an expansion in South-South trade in goods, services and commodities.
Assuring development gains from international trade in the context of trade-driven
globalization necessitates improving the quantitative benchmarks of integration in international trade
through increased trade performance, increasing shares in world trade and in GDP. More importantly,
a major improvement in the qualitative benchmarks of integration – such as increased competitiveness
and enhanced productive capacity, adequate and modern infrastructure (physical and social), trade
facilitation, human resource development, diversification, higher value addition of production and
exports, employment generation, a sound financial and investment climate, competition culture,
technological advances, and more environmentally sustainable and climate-friendly production,
consumption and trade patterns – will also be required.
Accelerated economic growth and increased returns from trade should be channelized into
achieving human and social development including food security, energy security, rural development,
universal access to essential services, gender equity, and poverty reduction. All of these noble
objectives are embodied in internationally agreed development goals, including in the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) and the Monterey Consensus on Financing for Development. Reducing
inequalities and democratizing the trade and development gains within and across countries should
become the essential attributes of the globalizing world.
B. NEW OPPORTUNITIES, REALITIES AND PERSISTENT
Trade-driven globalization has reached unprecedented pace, scope, and scale. It has spawned
new opportunities and realities as well as persistent challenges to the acceleration of economic growth,
development, and poverty reduction.
Some developing countries are beginning to realize the prospects of a more beneficial
integration – both quantitative and qualitative – into the global economy and the international trading
system. For many others, an increased quantitative integration has not had positive results. Often, their
viii Globalization for Development
liberalization has not translated into qualitative gains with widespread and structural developmental
impact. Still others have seen only partial gains. In the LDCs especially, the promised and expected
gains of trade-driven globalization are still missing or insufficient. There is concern that the costs of
trade driven globalization maybe economically, socially, politically, and environmentally
unsustainable, resulting in increasing inequalities and the loss of social cohesion within and across
countries. For such countries, it has meant not just incurring costs – including from adjustment to trade
liberalization, intensified competition, and reduced policy space – but also increased vulnerability to
In addition, disappointment with the lack of sufficient development dividends and increasing
hardships on account of adjustment in many developing countries are calling into question the ‘raison
d'être’ of trade liberalization and globalization. Even developed countries – thus far the drivers and
main beneficiaries of trade driven globalization – now have anxieties about job displacement, wage
stagnation, rising inequalities, and adjustment costs arising from freer trade. This is particularly so as
more and more developing countries are becoming competitive in different sectors, and posing a
challenge to the domestic manufacturing and services industries as well as the labour force of
developed countries. This has begun to arouse protectionist sentiments, and even threaten a backlash
against their trade with and investment relations with developing countries.
Thus a prime concern today for most policymakers everywhere is how to maximize the
development benefits of globalization and trade, to minimize their economic, social, human and
environmental costs, and to make these the over-arching objectives of trade-driven globalization. It is
imperative that both the reality and the perceptions about the costs and benefits of trade driven
globalization be managed in such a way as to maximize development benefits with equity and
inclusiveness, and minimize costs. The failure to do so has the potential of posing a setback to the
attainment of internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs.
In this regard, countries are called upon to judiciously calibrate the following: the tension
between national policy space and international obligations and commitments; the balance between
national and global governance; the coherence among different policy areas and levels; and the
differing yet complementary roles of the state, the market, and the corporate sector in the process of
development. There is increasing acknowledgement that, despite an apparent irreversibility and
spontaneity, it is possible to manage the globalization process towards better development outcomes.
Efforts to create and sustain an enabling environment to benefit from globalization will have
to be pursued in the context of an increasingly differentiated trade and development landscape. There
is need to capture the 'common development denominators' across developing countries. These include
the structural characteristics and policy issues of common concern and applicability to developing
countries, irrespective of their size or weight in the world economy and international trade. These are
reflected in the qualitative benchmarks of beneficial participation and integration of developing
countries in international trade and economy.
It will also be necessary to focus on the specific trade and development concerns of countries
in special need, such as LDCs, landlocked countries, and small and vulnerable economies. For these
countries, the challenges of marginalization, structural inadequacy, and productive capacity constraints
are manifold. Moreover, despite their recent rapid growth and a successful increase in their global
exports, many developing countries are still hugely challenged in having to deal with the backlog of
underdevelopment, poverty and infrastructure deficit in a sustained manner. The predicament of
middle income developing countries – exposed to global markets and financial flows even as they
strive to climb the trade and development ladder and further reduce poverty and inequality – will also
need attention. Already countries with economies in transition are providing examples of trade and
development endeavour that require different approaches and policy responses.
National, regional, and international trade and development strategies need to take these
specificities as well as the baseline scenarios of such countries into account whilst adopting an
integrated and holistic approach based on common development denominators.
Another reality that needs to be taken into account is the shifting comparative advantage and
competitiveness paradigm in international trade. Natural resource endowments – particularly oil and
gas as well as minerals and metals – have once again become important in trade competitiveness, both
directly and indirectly. They have enabled many developing countries to reap trade gains.
At the same time, the mobility of global enterprises to most cost/quality competitive
destinations indicates the continued, if not increased, salience of labour costs in global production and
trade, especially in the labour-and-skills intensive sectors. The capacity for technological innovation,
development, and adaptation is another key determinant, giving a dynamic competitive edge to
countries and enterprises across different sectors. Meanwhile, capital has become increasingly
footloose, with even developing countries participating in the global movement of capital and its
contribution to trade. Some of the most competitive and successful countries in trade and development
are those that are able to make the best use of their assets in terms of their human and natural resource
endowments, and bring into effect synergies between technology and capital in a dynamic way.
Servicing global markets with global products means that scale matters in most sectors. In
order to be part of ‘global sourcing’, developing countries have to either upscale on their own or
participate in global production and distribution networks in a significant way. In other sectors such as
pharmaceuticals, chemicals, high tech and specialized industries – where the skills element is critical –
developing countries need to be active, and work in alliance with global enterprises. Most often, it is a
combination of both scale and skills, as in the case of China, that makes for overwhelming trade
competitiveness. It is also clear that a combination of low cost labour and high tech and knowledge-
related advantages are powerful determinants of international trade competitiveness. Thus, the ability
of developing countries to increase their beneficial participation in international trade – including in
area of value addition – depends on their being able to leverage these advantages.
C. UNCTAD’S CONTRIBUTION
UNCTAD’s work contributes to making trade and globalization work for successful
development. There is need to continuously monitor, assess, review and benchmark the problems,
trends, and prospects in international trade and/for the formulation of trade policy. There is a need to
address systemic issues that affect the enabling environment at the national, regional and international
levels. There is need to elaborate and promote policy and institutional toolkits to positively harness
globalization. There is a need to improve global governance and institutional coherence. There is need
to foster solidarity initiatives for development-positive, pro-poor, and high quality integration of
developing countries in the international trading system. With over 44 years of experience in trade and
development, UNCTAD’s contribution as part of the United Nations system work on development
becomes increasingly relevant in the advent and progression of globalization.
x Globalization for Development
Trade driven globalization has generated new opportunities and realities which are affecting
development prospects everywhere. It has also brought into sharper focus the persistent challenges that
still need to be effectively addressed to foster and sustain the acceleration of economic growth,
development, and poverty reduction. This publication examines the key features of these new
opportunities, realities and persistent challenges. It profiles key trade and development issues that will
have to be addressed in the years ahead in order to promote beneficial and inclusive globalization. It
also discusses the national, regional and international actions needed to create an enabling
environment for development. It underscores that benefiting from globalization hinges on the effective
integration of developing countries into the world economy and the international trading system, both
in quantitative and qualitative terms. This requires enhanced and strengthened governance, coherence
and solidarity at all levels – national, regional and global.
Chapter 1 of this report discusses the systemic evolution of the international trading system. It
outlines some of the new opportunities arising from international trade and some of the persistent
challenges that come in the way of assuring development gains from such trade. It argues that national,
regional, and international trade and development strategies need to take the specificities of
developing countries into account, as well as adopt an holistic approach based on common
development denominators. It addresses some of the key elements of the multilateral trading system as
well as some of the challenges regarding WTO accession, non-tariff barriers, and the proliferation of
regional trade agreements. It presents key elements of a development package to be delivered by the
current Doha Round. This chapter also points to some policy measures which could be undertaken to
allow developing countries to participate more fully and beneficially in international trade.
Chapter 2 discusses the increased dynamism in international trade and the growing role of
developing countries. The key factors fostering international trade and the participation of developing
countries are highlighted. These include the vibrant performance of some dynamic economies, and the
trade in new and dynamic sectors of world trade. The connection between trade and development is
complex and needs continuous assessment. The latter can be provided through such tools as
UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Index.
Chapter 3 examines South-South trade and the emergence of a group of dynamically growing,
trading, and investing developing countries. It proposes support for further development of this new
geography of international trade as it brings development gains for both developing and developed
countries as well as the international trading system.
Chapter 4 discusses the commodity boom that has taken place since 2002, and its evolving
problematic. It presents the future prospects of this sector and the impact of commodity demand on
commodity exporting countries, particularly low-income commodity-dependent developing countries
which rely on one (or a few) export commodities. How to harness this commodity boom for the
purposes of development, as well as how the commodity agenda can be re-launched globally are
Chapter 5 argues that developing countries can reap significant gains by expanding and
diversifying their economies through increasing the development of, and trade in, services. The
services sectors hold a huge potential for economic growth, development and poverty reduction. This
chapter also examines the challenges of developing the services economy and trade at the national,
regional and multilateral levels.
Chapter 6 discusses the increasing opportunities for labour integration and mobility for skills
trade in the context of trade and investment-led globalization. It identifies how such labour movements
could be realized through unilateral, bilateral and multilateral schemes. The chapter further examines
xii Globalization for Development
some of the costs and benefits of labour integration and skills trade including brain circulation and the
potential ways such integration can bring gains for all.
Chapter 7 discusses the effects of high fuel prices upon the economies of both oil-importing
and oil-exporting developing countries, as well as the issue of energy security. It also examines the
national and international strategies needed to address the challenges and opportunities which arise.
Chapter 8 analyzes important developmental issues arising at the interface of trade and
environment. These include the implications of climate change response on trade and development and
how trade can contribute to a more climate friendly production and economic growth paths;
biodiversity and biofuels opportunities; environmental measures affecting developing country trade;
and trade negotiations on environmental goods and services.
Chapter 9 argues that domestic and cross-border anti-competitive practices impair the process
of development in developing countries more significantly than previously thought. It suggests
national and international measures that could help address anti-competitive practices of enterprises,
especially in the context of mergers involving global enterprises, and to ensure fair competition for
developing countries in globalized and liberalized markets.
Chapter 10 discusses the aid for trade initiative as an essential complement to trade
liberalization in the international trading system. Such assistance is needed to mitigate the costs of
trade liberalization, whether multilateral, bilateral or unilateral; help build competitive supply
capacities; and support developing countries implement trade agreements and meet adjustment costs.
Chapter XI discusses the contribution of UNCTAD to harnessing trade-driven globalization
for inclusive development and poverty eradication.
A conclusion is provided that to the effect that globalization have generated opportunities for
developing countries that can be seized and challenges that should be addressed to maximize
development gains and minimize the attendant costs. The international trading landscape is also being
changed by globalization. National, regional and international policies and measures that respond to
these changing conditions will be instrumental in ensuring that developing countries integrated both
quantitatively and qualitatively into the international trading system and use trade to more fully
achievement development and internationally agreed development goals including the MDGs. In this
direction, UNCTAD has a catalytic contribution to make.
SYSTEMIC EVOLUTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL TRADING
The international trading system today incorporates a much broader range of economic issues,
rules, disciplines, and commitments than did the pre-1994 regime of the General Agreement on Tariffs
and Trade (GATT). Due to the expanded scope of World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements,
topics such as services and trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights – whose international
dimensions were previously handled through sector- or subject-specific agreements and arrangements
– have now been brought within the scope of multilateral trade policy. As a result, not only goods but
also the cross-border movements of services, and the protection of intellectual property are now
included in the overall agenda of national, regional and international trade policy. Moreover, what
were once considered non-trade issues (such as labour practices, environmental standards, and even
human rights) are now being linked to market access conditions, particularly as part of the formation
of a plethora of regional trade agreements (RTAs) and preferential trade agreements. Governments,
enterprises and civil society are thus called upon to be more comprehensively and cooperatively
involved in trade policy formulation and implementation as part of holistic development strategies and
The development processes in developing countries are being comprehensively affected by the
rules of the trading system, in addition to the trade policies of their major partners. Developing
countries need to strategically manage and balance many more variables in the trade and development
policy matrix than ever before. Added to this is the challenge of calibrating and using national policy
space vis-à-vis the growing panoply of international commitments and disciplines.
1.1. The evolving multilateral trading system
Since 1995, the international trading system has undergone a number of major changes. In the
pre-Uruguay Round environment, the multilateral trading system was focused mainly on border
measures in trade in goods. It recognized the structural and economic challenges faced by developing
countries, and provided them with some special and differential treatment. 1 This took the form
principally of non-reciprocity in trade concessions, such as preferential market access, the most
important of which were the generalized system of preferences (GSP) negotiated in UNCTAD and the
Lomé Convention granted by the EU to African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries.2 It also comprised
the dispensation from trade rules constraining domestic policy action. In essence, these related to the
flexibility to use import controls to protect infant industries and to deal with balance of payment
problems, since contracting parties to the GATT were not obliged to become signatories to all or any
of the issue-specific agreements or disciples on trade-related domestic (behind the border) policies.
These included the plurilateral approach adopted in the Tokyo Round codes which allowed many
developing countries to opt out from trade disciplines.
The pre-Uruguay Round GATT multilateral trade system was also accompanied by a series of
international commodity agreements for coffee, sugar, rubber and tin, concluded under the aegis of the
UN through UNCTAD, as well as for dairy and bovine meat, concluded within the GATT. Essentially,
The trade-related structural challenges were notably those of industrializing within an already established
pattern of international specialization dominated by already industrialized countries and of managing economies
where the balance of payments position (in particular the capacity to import capital goods and to service external
debt) was heavily dependent on the price of primary commodities.
Preferences excluded most non-tropical agricultural exports or subjected them to quotas. Tariff escalation was
widespread and steep, and market access for manufactured products was subject to administrative restrictions
such as rules of origin. Trade in textiles and clothing was regulated by a system of quotas under the Multi-Fibre
2 Globalization for Development
these agreements were multilateral undertakings on prices and supplies between the main exporting
and importing countries.
The post-Uruguay Round trading environment differs in several ways. The vast majority of
developing countries, as well as countries with economies in transition, have now joined the World
Trade Organization (WTO). Established in 1995 as a result of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade
negotiations under the GATT, the WTO has brought about a profound transformation in the world
trading system. As compared to the GATT 1947, the scope of the trading system was extended to
agriculture, textiles and clothing, services, trade-related investment measures, and trade-related aspects
of intellectual property rights. As tariffs were lowered and as trade disciplines were extended to
development policies and measures previously falling exclusively within the domestic jurisdiction, the
national policy space for developing countries contracted. On the other hand, the rule of law
represented by the strengthened rules in the WTO worked to their advantage in several areas. In
particular, the strengthened, quasi judicial and automatic dispute settlement system that underpins the
compliance of WTO members to negotiated disciplines and commitments, has provided effective trade
justice avenues to them. Some developing countries are making effective use of the dispute settlement
mechanism all though fuller utilization and benefit is constrained by factors like the lack of capacity of
developing countries to ensure the enforcement of decisions.3
1.2. The multilateral trading system and the WTO
Global trade relations and the bulk of world trade are now governed largely by the WTO
agreements forming the multilateral trading system (MTS). Since the WTO agreements were based on
the principle of a single undertaking, all members of the WTO are obliged to be party to all the
agreements which cover a wider set of border as well as domestic policy issues than the GATT. These
have reduced the extent of domestic policy space previously available to developing countries.
Although developing countries still receive some form of special and differential treatment
(SDT), these are mostly on the basis of temporary exemptions from some provisions of the new
agreements and longer implementation periods (that have mostly expired). As a result of a stricter
application of the reciprocity principle, developing countries are now generally expected to have
national trade regimes as open as those of developed countries. Thus, the new underlying logic in the
trading system’s approach to trade and development is equality in trade opportunities for developed
and developing countries alike (despite inequalities in capacity), rather than providing more
meaningful responses to the specific structural problems of developing countries.
LDCs have been granted a substantively greater degree of special and differential treatment
under WTO agreements. However, unilateral trade liberalization and domestic market deregulation
(undertaken since the 1980s as a condition for access to multilateral finance) have left many of them
with some of the most open national trade regimes.4
There is no doubt that the freer trade enabled by the GATT/WTO system in the last six
decades has contributed to expanding world trade, made for a buoyant global economy, as well as
advanced trade-driven globalization. The extensive scope of WTO agreements in particular has had
implications for the ability of developing countries to pursue proactive development strategies as well
The WTO World Trade Report 2007 provides a comprehensive overview of the 60 years of multilateralism in
trade through the GATT/WTO, and highlights key lessons learnt.
The external deficit and debt crisis of the 1980s was accompanied by a range of new lending instruments by the
IMF and the World Bank, including the Structural Adjustment Facility/Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility
at the Fund and structural adjustment lending at the Bank. As a condition for access to such funds, African
countries had to accept IMF and World Bank structural adjustment programmes which included, among other
things, unilateral trade liberalization, privatization and the dismantling of commodity marketing boards in a large
number of commodity dependent countries.
Chapter I 3
as to explore and experiment with various policy options. The broad coverage, scope, and depth of
WTO agreements have increased the impact of the trading system disciplines to various governmental
policies as well as measures taken for development purposes.
WTO Agreements in areas such as agricultural and industrial subsidies, services, trade-related
investment measures, and trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights have had a major impact
on development efforts. Some industrial policy tools – which were used extensively and successfully
by developed countries in their industrialization and catch-up processes – were foreclosed indefinitely
as viable policy options for developing countries. This has highlighted the need and importance of
adequate and balanced policy space and flexibility in remaining trade policy measures. In this regard,
SDT provisions and the less-than-full reciprocity principle constitute enabling tools for the progressive
and sustained, integration of developing countries into the world economy.
1.3. Continuing challenges of WTO accession
The universality of WTO membership is essential for the legitimacy of the trading system.
The process of WTO accession continues to represent important challenges for 29 developing
countries and countries with economies in transition in the accession process. Experience has shown
that acceding developing countries continue to be subjected to requests for relatively deep
liberalization and stringent reform commitments. These include WTO-plus commitments which could
go beyond the level of concessions and commitments undertaken by existing WTO Members of a
similar level of development; or WTO-minus rights whereby concessions enjoyed by WTO members
are not granted to the acceding country. For example, access to SDT provisions is not automatic – it is
often subjected to negotiations on a case-by-case basis.
It is crucial to ensure fair and equitable terms of accession to developing countries. These
terms should be commensurate with the trade, financial, and development needs of each acceding
country. They should also be given increased support in all stages of the accession negotiations.
Moreover, the specific needs of newly acceded countries should also be addressed in the Doha
negotiations, given the extensive and deep commitment undertaken during the accession process. If
the terms and conditions are in keeping with each country’s stage of development during accession to
the WTO, economic policy and institutional reform will be stimulated and trading capacity enhanced.
It has also being observed that WTO accession is a catalyst for developing countries to get their trade
and economic reforms as well as institution building act together in a relatively short time.
1.4. Trade Preferences
Trade preferences constitute a key SDT pillar of the international trading system. Several
initiatives by developed countries – and to a lesser extent by developing countries – have been
developed to provide the latter improved market access for their exports and have brought important
benefits (see Table 1). Such preferences for LDCs are a commitment of the international community,
reiterated in MDG 8. As a result many developing countries, especially LDCs are dependent on
preferential access including duty free, quota free access into major developed country markets. Such
access enables them to secure more FDI for productive capacity-building and makes their exports
more competitive than otherwise. Preference have served as a stimulus to trade and development in
many beneficiary countries and for sectors affected. They continue to provide important competitive
advantages to many small and vulnerable economies and represent for a number of them a most
significant trade policy instrument for development.
However with continuous unilateral, regional and multilateral liberalisation and lowering of
tariffs, preference margins are being continuously eroded rendering trade preferences an international
trade and development solidarity measure with diminishing returns. The challenge for preference
dependent developing countries and the international community is to cushion the adjustment shocks
4 Globalization for Development
of preference erosion and to fashion SDT and solidarity measures going beyond tariff preferences.
Thus it would be useful to look at easing market entry of these countries through help in the standards
and conformity related infrastructure for example, including through aid for trade. Also, existing
preference need to be improved especially as regards their product coverage and predictability as well
as realistic rules of origin requirements and simplified administration procedures.
Beneficiary Developing, 17'389 6'357 3'716 2'334 58 63
Beneficiary LDCs 185 41 6 4 15 64
Beneficiary Developing, 242'673 160'836 117'899 65'327 73 55
Beneficiary LDCs 8'626 4'545 4'335 1'136 95 26
Beneficiary Developing, 170'732 95'589 41'251 16'857 43 41
Beneficiary LDCs 1'313 914 243 231 27 95
Beneficiary Developing, 102'925 68'003 26'676 16'639 39 62
Beneficiary LDCs 1'916 1'580 95 53 6 56
AGOA excl. Minerals
Beneficiary Developing, 30'909 8'452 4'808 3'090 57 64
Beneficiary LDCs 180 76 10 7 13 72
Beneficiary Developing, 272'052 134'843 78'680 36'072 58 46
Beneficiary LDCs 11'220 5'748 5'582 1'529 97 27
Beneficiary Developing, 213'512 109'627 85'793 13'198 78 15
Beneficiary LDCs 1'101 799 553 218 69 40
Beneficiary Developing, 143'757 83'242 19'464 11'102 23 57
Beneficiary LDCs 7'992 7'369 3'601 3'250 49 90
AGOA excl. Minerals
Beneficiary Developing, 49'149 13'830 8'929 5'033 65 56
Beneficiary LDCs 884 163 128 123 79 96
Beneficiary Developing, 557'451 226'950 100'959 74'285 44 74
Beneficiary LDCs 20'020 9'622 9'350 6'326 97 68
Beneficiary Developing, 242'271 114'008 29'911 17'758 26 59
Beneficiary LDCs 3'498 3'102 186 173 6 93
Beneficiary Developing, 255'998 159'341 26'047 20'124 16 77
Beneficiary LDCs 19'233 18'154 12'430 6'371 68 51
AGOA 49'786 42'902 41'546 34'031 97 82
AGOA excl. Minerals 9'543 3'458 2'102 1'938 61 92
Source: UNCTAD calculations based on UNCTAD GSP database
Notes: For Canada data is 2004 instead of 2005.
EU data for 2005 includes imports under the ACP scheme and the Euro-Mediterranean FTA.
Coverage rate = Imports covered by preferential scheme / Dutiable imports
Utilization rate = Imports received preferences/ Imports covered by preferential scheme
Table 1: Utilization of Trade Preferences
In million dollars
Chapter I 5
The EU's ‘Everything but Arms’ initiative for LDCs, and the United States’ African Growth
and Opportunities Act (AGOA) provides increased trading opportunities for some of the poorest
developing countries. Other developing countries (such as the ACP States) benefit from non-reciprocal
trade preferences (like those provided under the Cotonou Partnership Agreement). However, such
trading regimes are time-bound and will expire. The Cotonou Partnership Agreement’s trade
component expired in December 2007. New WTO-compatible trading arrangements have been
negotiated in the form of interim economic partnership agreements that are being implemented for
some ACP States from 1 January 2008. Other developed countries – such as Japan, Australia, Canada,
Norway and the United States – have instituted a generalized system of preferences (GSP) for
developing countries and LDCs which have been enhanced.
The two major importers – the EU and the United States – recently revised their GSP
programmes. The EU’s GSP scheme was revised in January 2006, and is valid until December 2008.
While the revised scheme is simpler and has wider product coverage than the previous one, it also
includes some stringent rules for the 'GSP Plus' benefits which some vulnerable countries are entitled
to. At present, 15 countries are beneficiaries of the 'GSP Plus' benefits. Also, the graduation criteria
are tighter in the current scheme as compared to the previous one. Except in the case of textiles and
clothing, which are reviewed annually, graduation will be assessed at the end of 2008. Under the
revised scheme, 80 per cent of Chinese exports will be graduated.
In December 2006, the United States’ GSP programme was extended for a further two years,
until 31 December 2008. The criteria set for GSP graduation was tightened in the current GSP
programme by adding a new statute. Previously, GSP products became subject to graduation if their
exports exceed the competitive need limit (CNL), but such products could have a CNL waiver under
certain conditions. In the current GSP scheme, the President can revoke any existing CNL waiver that
has been in effect for at least five years if it meets certain conditions. Under the new criteria, some
products from Brazil, Cote d'Ivoire, India, Philippines, Thailand and Venezuela have been graduated.
Table 1 shows the coverage rates and the utilization rates of trade preferences.5 Between 1995
and 2005, developing countries’ utilization rates of the GSP scheme have improved. Thus imports
from developing countries into developed countries under GSP schemes increased. However, the
coverage rates deteriorated. Thus the universe of goods from developing countries that can benefit
from preferences has declined. For LDCs conversely, the coverage rates made notable improvement,
while the utilization rates showed mixed results. Table 1 shows that the coverage rates for developing-
country beneficiaries decreased from 73 to 44 per cent for the EU, 43 to 26 per cent for Japan, and 39
to 16 per cent for the United States. The declines are due to the increase in dutiable imports along with
the rise in total imports from developing countries, while imports covered by the GSP schemes
declined. For Canada, the coverage rate in 2005 increased by 7 per cent as imports covered by its GSP
increased along with the rise in the dutiable imports from developing countries. In contrast, the
coverage rates for LDC products have made substantial improvement. The rates increased from 15 to
79 per cent for Canada, from 95 to 97 per cent for the EU, and from 6 to 68 per cent for the United
States. For Japan, the rates decreased from 27 to 6 per cent. 6
The preference utilization rates for developing-country beneficiaries increased from 41 to 59
per cent for Japan and from 62 to 77 per cent for the United States, while they decreased from 63 to 56
per cent for Canada. For the EU, although the figures indicate substantial increase, it should be noted
Coverage rate is defined as percentage of imports that are covered by preferential scheme (i.e. imports on
which preferences apply) over dutiable imports (total imports on which duties are applied). Utilization rate is
defined as percentage of imports that receives preferential treatment (imports entering a country on preferential
rate) over imports that are covered by preferential scheme (total imports that can benefit from preferences).
These rates indicate effectiveness of preferences.
But it should be noted that the initiative which enhanced duty-and quota-free market access for LDC products
has been effective since 1 April 2007. See WTO, "Committee on Trade and Development - Generalized System
of Preferences - Notification by Japan - Addendum", WT/COMTD/N/2/Add.14, 12 April 2007.
6 Globalization for Development
that the 2005 figure includes the imports which received preferences under the ACP scheme and the
Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area. Disaggregated data is not available, and it is not possible to
assess the utilization of the EU GSP scheme for 2005. For LDCs, the utilization rates increased from
64 to 96 per cent for Canada, while they declined from 95 to 93 per cent for Japan, and 56 to 51 per
cent for the United States. For the EU, the rates increased from 26 to 68 per cent, but the 2005 figure
includes the imports received under the ACP preference, and the LDC utilization rate cannot be
The experiences with trade preferences granted to exports indicates that these are meaningful
only when they are utilized by the beneficiary countries. The utilization rate is affected adversely by
restrictive rules of origin and other non-tariff barriers, which prevent these preferences from being
fully exploited. Hence, the deficiencies in preferential regimes and market entry barriers need to be
addressed and removed in order to ensure genuine market access opportunities. In addition, supply
capacity constraints severely limit the capacity of many developing countries to exploit duty-free and
other preferential opportunities. Thus, the development of competitive production capacities is a key
aspect in enabling developing countries to take fuller advantage of market access opportunities.
1.5. Growing importance of non-tariff barriers and standards
A notable trend in the international trading system is that, with the decline in tariffs as a result
of eight rounds of multilateral trade negotiations, the relative importance of non-tariff barriers (NTBs)
has risen, both as instruments of protection and for regulating trade. For instance, during 1994-2004,
besides traditionally applied NTBs such as anti-dumping and countervailing measures, government-
mandated technical measures (such as testing and certification requirements) increased seven times
worldwide. The nature of the most applied NTBs has also changed.
In many developed countries, regulatory policy now focuses on the protection of the
environment, public health and safety, and often includes higher standards for the domestic market
than existing international standards. While these regulations do not contravene WTO rules, they
entail greater compliance costs than would otherwise be the case, especially for those developing
countries that are mainly standard-takers and not standard-makers. The challenge to them can be
gauged by the fact that, even for developed countries, standards have become a major concern in each
others' markets. This is all too evident in the market access barrier reports brought out by the USA, EU
and Japan, and in the context of transatlantic regulatory harmonization being considered between the
USA and EU.
The increased use of requirements concerning the technical specification of products places
additional costs and burdens on companies in developing countries in accessing markets. The products
of export interest to developing countries most often affected by NTBs include food and beverages,
fisheries products, electrical equipment and electronics, pharmaceuticals and chemicals, as well as
textiles among others. In general, costs arise from the translation of foreign regulations, the hiring of
technical experts to explain foreign regulations, and the adjustment of production facilities to comply
with the new stringent, frequently changing requirements and shifting goal posts.
Overall it is estimated that presently due to measures relating to Sanitary and Phytosanitary
Measures, and Technical Barriers to Trade (SPS/TBT), potential export earnings of developing
countries are being decreased by at least 10 per cent. Additional costs are also incurred when legal and
regulatory frameworks need to be improved to support both the participation of national firms in
international markets and enhance their competitiveness. Accordingly, classifying, quantifying and
assessing the development impact of NTBs will be very important in assuring that market access
granted to developing countries is not obviated by these newer non-tariff protectionist measures.7
Current knowledge of NTBs, both empirical and conceptual, is rather limited and hampered by the lack of
common methodologies and the inadequate quality of available data and updated information. UNCTAD has
Chapter I 7
Meeting international standards for quality, safety, health, environment and consumer interests
is increasingly becoming a precondition for competing in international markets (see Box 1). The
modernization of standards systems in developing countries, including institutions and infrastructure
for certification, is essential for operating in the current global trade environment. Lack of such trade
related infrastructure has also become a major factor constraining many exporters, particularly in the
LDCs, from benefiting fully from preferential access initiatives. Thus assistance involving the
provision of hardware like testing equipment, financial support for institution building, and technical
assistance for raising capacity to comply with regulations and standards should be strengthened.
Moreover, the participation of developing countries in international standard setting activities should
be facilitated. The promotion of mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) between developed and
developing countries, as well as among developing countries, will also help in reconciling frictions
and disputes caused by different regulations between trading partners, and lead to large cost savings
for exporting firms worldwide. Greater reliance on internationally evolved standards in which
developing countries have participated rather than on unilaterally determined measures and standards
is called for. This would ensure greater systemic transparency and equity as well as discipline the
abuse of standards that are prepared, adopted or applied with a view to or with the effect of creating
unnecessary obstacles to international trade.
Box 1. Proliferation of product standards
The number of standards with which products must comply (in their design, size, weight, traceability, safety,
energy and environmental performance, inter-operability, material and even process of production) to be traded
internationally is quite large. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published around
14,900 international standards. In addition to the public expenditures required to provide national laboratories
and skilled technicians for testing and certification, a significant portion of meeting the cost of standards has
also to be borne by firms in developing countries. The incremental production costs for firms in developing
nations in conforming to standards imposed by major importing countries are estimated by the World Bank to
be fixed costs of approximately US$425,000 per firm, or about 4.7 per cent of value added on average, and
variable production costs of between 0.06 and 0.13 per cent for every 1 per cent increase in investment to meet
compliance requirements. (See, Keith E. Maskus, Tsunehiro Otsuki and John S. Wilson (2005). "The Cost of
Compliance with Product Standards for Firms in Developing Countries: An Econometric Study", World Bank
Policy Research Working Paper 3590, May).
1.6. Mainstreaming development into the multilateral trading system
Against this background, the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations (launched in
November 2001) offers a unique opportunity to mainstream development into the MTS. The
completion of the Round is also imperative in realizing Goal 8 of the Millennium Development Goals
of ‘an open, equitable, rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory’ multilateral trading system.
The system stands at a crossroads. Following the Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference held in
Hong Kong, China in December 2005, the Doha Round has entered its most crucial phase. There is
urgent need to find solutions on key issues: agricultural market access, domestic support in agriculture,
and industrial tariffs as well as services. Agriculture remains central to the negotiations. A genuine
structural adjustment in agricultural policy is important to enable an ambitious, balanced and
It remains imperative that a substantial development content that reflects the needs and
interests of developing countries – including real commercial opportunities for them – be firmly
included on a contractual basis in the final outcome of the Doha Round. The timeline for concluding
the Doha Round has been overtaken several times. There is risk that the Round will continue
indefinitely. In the event that the Round is successfully concluded, any negotiated outcome will be
implemented over the period leading to 2015 and will define trading conditions for the coming
initiated work to address this lacuna. See for example its report on Methodologies, classifications, quantification
and development impacts of non-tariff barriers (TD/B/COM.1/EM.27/2).
8 Globalization for Development
decades. Thus, it is the shared responsibility of all members to support and contribute to upholding the
credibility of the MTS at this juncture, and to ensure that the Round leads to development-friendly
1.7. Proliferation of regional trade agreements
At the same time, RTAs have proliferated worldwide to become a defining feature of today’s
international trade landscape. The WTO website on RTAs8 notes that “some 380 RTAs have been
notified to the GATT/WTO up to July 2007. Of these, 300 RTAs were notified under Article XXIV of
the GATT 1947 or GATT 1994; 22 under the Enabling Clause; and 58 under Article V of the GATS.
At that same date, 205 agreements were in force. If we take into account RTAs which are in force but
have not been notified, those signed but not yet in force, those currently being negotiated, and those in
the proposal stage, we arrive at a figure of close to 400 RTAs which are scheduled to be implemented
by 2010. Of these RTAs, free trade agreements (FTAs) and partial scope agreements account for over
90%, while customs unions account for less than 10 %.” Currently, the trade between RTA partners
accounts for almost 50 per cent of global merchandise trade. This trend towards RTAs will continue
on a North-North, North-South and South-South basis, thereby affecting the trading patterns and
prospects of developing countries.
The vast majority of RTAs are South-South agreements. These constitute important
instruments for trade creation, investment, and regional development. South-South RTAs and
cooperation face the daunting challenges of deepening and expanding integration measures (including
services and cooperative mechanisms) as well as the rationalization of their membership so that they
could serve as effective development instruments. Challenges arise for developing countries to design
policies and approaches that would maximize gains from both multilateral and regional integration
processes. It is important that both processes are mutually supportive and complementary in terms of
their scope, pace and sequencing of policies and measures committed to.
North-North and North-South RTAs represent a particularly significant systemic challenge to
the MTS. They could divert attention and commitment away from multilateral trade negotiations, and
have a stronger negative impact on the MFN principle enshrined in the MTS. They also pose
important adjustment challenges for developing countries as these agreements tend to impose deep
trade liberalization between major trading nations and weaker trading nations.
Box 2. WTO Transparency Mechanism on RTAs
The mechanism provides for (a) early announcement of impending RTAs by requiring WTO Members
negotiating an RTA or Members parties to a newly signed RTA to endeavour to inform the WTO of the future
RTA; (b) early notification of the RTA to the WTO which, as a rule, should occur no later than directly
following the RTA parties' ratification of the RTA or any party's decision on application of the relevant parts of
the RTA, and before the application of preferential treatment between the parties; (c) the notified RTA shall be
considered by Members, as a rule in a single formal meeting with any additional exchange of information to
take place in written form, and such review shall be normally concluded in a period not exceeding one year
after the date of notification; and (d) subsequent notification and reporting by parties to the RTA to WTO
members is required when changes are made to the RTA, and at the end of the RTA implementation period
when the liberalization commitments in the RTA are realized as originally notified. The information provided
on RTAs to the WTO will be posted on the WTO website and will be periodically provided to Members with a
synopsis of the communications received. The mechanism will be implemented on a provisional basis for all
RTAs. The WTO Committee on Regional Trade Agreements will implement the mechanism for RTAs falling
under Article XXIV of GATT 1994 and Article V of GATS, and the Committee on Trade and Development
will implement the mechanism for RTAs falling under the Enabling Clause. WTO Members will review, and if
necessary modify, the decision on the transparency mechanism in light of the experience gained from its
provisional operation, and replace it by a permanent mechanism.
Chapter I 9
Doha negotiations on WTO rules on RTAs aim to clarify and improve existing rules to
effectively discipline the proliferation RTAs, as well as take a better account of the developmental
aspects of RTAs. A Transparency Mechanism on RTAs was adopted by WTO members on 14
December 2006 as an interim measures will help to enhance transparency as well as compatibility of
RTAs with the WTO as well as assess their systemic effects (see Box 2).
1.8. Trade adjustment issues
Multilateral and regional trade negotiations and the resultant trade agreements engender
changes in policies, legislations and strategies to comply with, adapt to and take advantage of the new
trading dispensation. Such trade liberalization is expected to generate trade and welfare gains in the
long run, at least in the absence of externalities. However, there are often short- to medium-term
adjustment implications of trade reforms. This is because, as economies open up, imports use existing
channels while new exports often come from different sectors that have to gear up production and find
new markets. As this transition takes place, the structural unemployment that occurs is, perhaps, the
major social cost of adjusting to trade reforms. 9
Countries as advanced as the United States recognize that, unlike job losses that are the
consequence of technological change or competition, any form of trade liberalization that affects
domestic industries and employment is a policy choice. Thus, the State has an obligation to ensure that
the costs are not borne by the most vulnerable workers alone. This can be witnessed for example from
the proposed United States’ Trade and Globalization Adjustment Assistance Act of 2007 to assist
workers, communities, firms, and farmers affected by trade liberalization with any country.
Developing countries need adjustment assistance that goes beyond implementation support to
see them through the liberalization process at least as much as – and most certainly more than –
developed countries. A key role can be played here by both the donor community and international
financial institutions to provide adjustment support, including through the aid for trade initiative. This
is particularly so where the affected countries are already heavily in debt.
1.9. Trade and Gender
Empirical evidence on trade, trade liberalization and gender is scant. The available limited
research establishes that trade has gender-related effects. This is not surprising given that women, like
men, participate in various levels of production and trade whether locally or internationally. More
interestingly, available empirical evidence suggests a direct link between exports and female
employment, especially in the manufacturing sector with dynamic growth potential and a large
concentration of women. For example, increased exports were associated with increased female
employment in such countries as Mauritius, Tunisia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and the East
Asian ‘Tigers. In labour-rich developing countries, the expansion of exports are related to a substantial
increase in female employment and an increase in women's share in employment. Moreover,
researchers found that industrialization in the newly industrialized economies of Taiwan Province of
China, Hong Kong China, South Korea, and Singapore is as much female-led as it is export-led.
Conversely, in countries with low level of trade integration and dominance of commodities, the impact
of trade on women in the labour market appears less positive. This is witnessed for example in several
countries in sub-Saharan Africa.10
UNCTAD’s Developing Countries in International Trade Report 2005 (UNCTAD/DITC/TAB/2005/1)
looked into the experience of a number of developing countries that have undergone important trade reforms as
well as the possible magnitude of further adjustments under the current WTO negotiations. It drew upon a
number of country studies, and CGE modelling of various proposals in the current WTO negotiations,
supplemented by a review of a number of other studies of the adjustment process.
UNCTAD commissioned two studies on gender and trade namely Mainstreaming gender into trade and
development strategies in Africa, and Mainstreaming gender into trade and development strategies: The case of
10 Globalization for Development
The level of women participation and remuneration with trade liberalization and growth
however cannot be easily verified with empirical evidence. This association between trade and women
empowerment can be positive but it cannot be assumed to be either automatic or generalized.
Establishing the details of this association requires in-depth analysis and research on the impact of
trade and globalization on gender in generally and in specific countries (see Box 3). Studying the
linkages between trade performance and gender empowerment is important. It will help to enhance
awareness of the extent of association between trade and women. This can also help identify policies
and actions that can be designed and implemented to strengthen women participation in trade and in
turn acts as a further stimulus to trade growth. This can provide useful ideas about best practices at the
national level and development cooperation at the international level to strengthen the participation of
women in trade and promote pro-poor growth and development. Women empowerment in trade can be
a powerful engine of dynamic trade expansion for the whole economy.
Box 3. Women participation in trade in India
The UNCTAD-DFID-Government of India project on Strategies and Preparedness for Trade and Globalization
and UNDP commissioned a study on the Impact of Trade and Globalisation on Gender in India. It provides a
comprehensive overview of trade and gender issues in India, following economic reform of recent years. It
maps and assesses the relationship between trade and gender in India at the sectoral levels with relatively high
women labour and at different states (on the basis of the concentration of the sectors where women workers are
mainly engaged), to draw up nation-wide implications. Women’s employment in India following reform and
liberalization has increased to the extent of about 5-10 per cent. Women employment and wages have increased
in export oriented sectors with dynamic export growth such as handicrafts, wearing apparel, fisheries and IT.
Conversely, women seem to have borne the major brunt of fall in employment in case of decline of exports,
such as in tea and coffee production which are dominated by plantation production. There is a definite increase
in demand for casual workers to cope with export-related trade growth, which led to a rise in the informal
sector workers, a high percentage of them being women. Casual labour while providing employment can be
easily hired or laid off depending on demand fluctuations. Thus employment is precarious. They are also
subjected to poor wages and conditions of work. Income for both male and female workers has improved
wherever trade and globalisation has positively affected the labour market, such as in horticulture, dairying and
textiles and clothing, and IT. Years of education and skill have positive effects on the workers’ earning
capability. However benefits reaped by the male workers tend to be higher than that of females in terms of gain
in income. Female workers earn less than male workers irrespective of the industry, region or location. Equally
important, trade and globalization has a positive impact over women’s decision making power and their
consequent economic empowerment. The positive effect of trade expansion on women’s employment and
wages has positively affected intra-household dynamics, for instance in increasing spouse’s cooperation in the
household work. So wherever female employment opportunities have improved, women became increasingly
empowered. On the basis of such findings, the study concludes overall that there are positive gains across a
wide spectrum of sectors for women’s employment and empowerment with trade and globalization. However,
the situation is yet to achieve a notable improvement in the real empowerment for women, equitable
distribution of household responsibilities, equal pay for work of equal value and gender balance across
occupations. The process of feminization with export-oriented manufacturing industries has not been large
enough to counteract other forces which contribute to the downward pressure on women’s work participation
rates. There is thus a need to consciously work in India and within the global economy towards exploiting fully
the potential of women labour power in the service of trade and development.
1.10. Fostering an enabling environment: A fairer and more open trading system
The underlying logic in the trading system’s approach to trade liberalization and development
is the equality of trade opportunities for developed and developing countries alike. However, because
of the existing and often widening inequality in capacities, this makes for an unequal approach to
development. There is need for coherence in policy to ensure stability, predictability, security, and
fairness in the rules governing trade with a view to achieving a more open, equitable and development
oriented trading system. Attendant support mechanisms should be provided for effective flexibilities
East Africa. The reports seek to identify elements for a mutually supportive, win-win (high growth, low gender
inequality) scenario in the context of trade liberalization in Africa.
Chapter I 11
which respond to the specific structural problems of developing countries and accompanying market
The Doha Round provides an opportunity to correct some of the imbalances in the multilateral
trading system. It is also an opportunity to install a development dimension into the MTS system of
rights and obligations to ensure that trade liberalization is pursued not as an end in itself but as a
means to development and poverty reduction as well as the attainment of internationally agreed
All countries and all stakeholders have a shared interest in the success of the Doha Round and
the realization of its core development agenda. This was in fact mandated by the Doha Declaration,
when it stressed the imperative for the Round to ensure that the needs and interests of developing
countries are placed at the heart of the Round and its final outcome. This has been further emphasized
by the UN Millennium Summit and the 2005 World Summit. Six key elements of a development
package must be delivered to ensure greater coherence in, and the credibility of the MTS.
First, the Doha Round must result in significantly enhanced and additional real market access
and entry for the exports of manufactures, commodities, and services of developing countries in the
major markets of developed countries to enable the growth and prosperity of the former. This implies
tariff elimination, the removal of tariff escalation and peaks, providing access in the services sectors
offered by developing countries (especially modes 4 and 1), and addressing NTBs. The provision of
duty-free and quota-free treatment to all LDCs for their products on a lasting basis (as agreed at the
Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference and which remains to be implemented fully) is a prerequisite. In
this respect of strengthening gains from trade flowing to LDCs, UNCTAD had proposed a Trade
Marshall Plan for LDCs. Its critical aspects, which are interrelated and constitute a comprehensive
package of measures, relate to: (a) secure, predictable and stable market access for LDCs through
binding duty-free, quota-free treatment in the WTO on all their products; (b) accompanying actions to
discipline non-tariff barriers and market entry barriers facing LDCs, especially in the area of SPS/TBT
measures, and help them build effective standards-related capacity and infrastructure to comply with
such requirements; a targeted package in services to operationalize LDC priority areas in supply-side
capacity building and technology transfer, as well as commercially meaningful expansion of market
access in the temporary movement of persons supply services (GATS Mode 4) at all skill levels and in
sectors of key interest to LDCs; and an aid for trade fund to building LDCs’ export supply capacity.11
Paying priority attention to LDCs in services liberalization, including in terms of services sectors and
modes of interests to them and greater flexibility in liberalization commitment is important. Further,
WTO Members should ensure the implementation of the modalities for the special treatment for
(LDCs) in services that was adopted in September 2003.
Meaningful liberalization is expected to generate substantial welfare gains. One estimates
points out that global welfare would increase by over US$260 billion annually as a result of
eliminating all trade barriers. About US$50 billion of this would come from agricultural liberalization,
and a further US$80 billion from liberalization of manufactures. The rest of about US$130 billion
would arise from liberalizing services trade.12 Developing countries would capture some of these gains.
Second, the Doha Round should improve the rules that address and remove existing
asymmetries as well as enhance the fairness and equity of the MTS. Reducing and removing trade
distorting agricultural subsidies substantially is indispensable for levelling the playing field for fair
competition in agricultural trade. An appropriate pacing and sequencing of market opening as well as
See Lakshmi Puri, "Towards a new Trade "Marshall Plan" for Least Developed Countries"
Dee and Hanslow (2000): Multilateral liberalisation of services trade, Productivity Commission Staff Research
Paper, Ausinfo, Canberra.
12 Globalization for Development
institutional and regulatory reform are also important, particularly in the services sector. These should
be accompanied by flanking policies as well as support for building domestic supply capacity.
Also important is infusing a development-orientation into both existing and new WTO
disciplines in order to provide the flexibility and predictability that developing countries need in order
to promote trade and development. For instance, the flexibilities recognized under the TRIPS
Agreement for access to essential medicines can be operationalized and implemented. Given the
importance of access to technology for development and poverty reduction, the objectives and
principles of the TRIPS Agreement regarding the transfer and dissemination of technology can also be
operationalized in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare. Likewise, in negotiations
regarding rules on fisheries subsidies, there is need to integrate the concerns of small and vulnerable
coastal States for appropriate SDT in any disciplines, particularly in respect of access fees and
development assistance, fiscal incentives to domestication, fisheries development, and artisan fisheries.
Third, the development dimension signifies an adequate and sufficient degree of policy
autonomy for economic governance that would allow countries to effectively manage and regulate
their domestic economic policy in the light of national development and public policy objectives,
within the multilateral framework of rights and obligations under the WTO. This translates into such
measures as SDT and less than full reciprocity; the preservation of tariff revenue; the promotion of
domestic nascent industries as well as pre-empting de-industrialization; the preservation of long
standing trade preferences; safeguarding food security, livelihood security, and rural development;
providing for the use of policies and measures to foster commodity production, diversification and
competitiveness; universal access to essential and infrastructure services; as well as access to essential
drugs. Implementation-related issues, and the concerns of small and vulnerable economies and LDCs,
also need to be addressed.
Policy flexibility should be available to developing countries that need it in specific areas so as
to reduce the cost of implementation and adjustment, to ensure the sustainability of the adjustment
process on the economic, social, environmental, and political fronts, and to deploy proactive measures
with a view to building competitive supply capacity and productivity for exports. Some degree of
flexibility has already been introduced in existing agreements and in the ongoing Doha negotiations.
However, what is more important in the long run is mainstreaming the development dimension into
the architecture of the WTO and making it fully operational.
Fourth, development solidarity is required from the international community to developing
countries for undertaking adjustments and meeting implementation costs, as well as building trade-
related infrastructure and supply capacity in order to take full advantage of increased market access
and new trading opportunities. With trade liberalization and reform, developing countries face
important implementation and adjustment costs, along with the need to create and strengthen
supporting institutional and infrastructural capacities. Such solidarity would be in keeping with MDG
Goal 8 on global partnership for development.
In this context, the Aid for Trade initiative is an essential complement to trade liberalization in
the trading system. It can play an important role – along with improved market access, balanced rules
of trade liberalization, and sound domestic policies – in helping developing countries realize the
potential gains from trade and mitigate its potential costs.
Fifth, it is important to ensure coherence and a positive interface between RTAs and the MTS.
Given the rise of regionalism, a robust progress in and a development-oriented conclusion of the Doha
Round is the best guarantee against the erosion of the MTS. Specifically, the WTO rules on RTAs –
under negotiation in the Doha negotiations – need clarification and improvement so as to improve
compliance and better take into account the developmental aspects of RTAs.
Chapter I 13
Sixth, it is necessary to regularly monitor and assess protectionist threats to the goal of an
open, equitable, rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system. Such
assessment could help to highlight such tendencies and lead to measures and actions which can curtail
protectionist threats against freer and fairer trading relations.
14 Globalization for Development
THE IMPACT OF INCREASED INTERNATIONAL TRADE
2.1. The growth and current dynamism of international trade
The last decade, as well as the prognosis for the future, is marked by the increased dynamism
and impact of trade on development and the world economy. The sheer size, scale and growth of trade
and its (potential) impact on development are the main features of globalization. World exports of
goods and services doubled between 1995 and 2006 to reach over US$14 trillion in 2006. Since 1995,
world merchandise trade has been growing at an annual average rate of 7.5 per cent. Since 2000, it has
accelerated further to an average of 13 per cent. In the period 2000-2006, developing countries
average export growth was about 15.9 per cent, while that of developed countries and countries with
economies in transition was 11 per cent and 21.3 per cent respectively.13
Table 2 shows the evolution of trade in goods exports over the 1995-2006 period. World
merchandise trade value has increased by 130 per cent while that of developing countries by 190 per
cent. As a consequence, an upward trend in the participation of developing countries in total trade is
observed. The share in world trade of developing countries which was 28.1 per cent in 1995 reached
35.5 per cent in 2006 (according to the data source used) The share of trade among developing
countries has also increased significantly. In 2006, this share is almost equal to 16 per cent of world
trade. It was about 11 per cent ten years ago.
Table 2. Total merchandise exports, 1995 - 2006
1995 2000 2006
World World 5,037.5 100.0 6,316.1 100.0 11,565.8 100.0 129.6
economies World 1,417.4 28.1 2,061.7 32.6 4,110.8 35.5 190.0
economies 570.2 11.3 786.6 12.5 1,824.2 15.8 219.9
Source: UNCTAD's South-South Trade Information System
A major contributing factor has been the spectacular growth in the share of international
merchandise and services trade of several dynamic developing countries (see Box 4). This growth has
resulted in new and enhanced opportunities for trade and development. Another related feature has
been the dynamic rise in trade between the countries of the South. Their share in merchandise global
exports jumped from around 20 per cent in 1970 to an all-time record of around 36 per cent in 2006.
UNCTAD GlobStat data.
16 Globalization for Development
Box 4. The performance of dynamic developing countries
During the last two decades, the shares of the dynamically growing economies in international merchandise and
services trade have grown considerably. Seven countries in particular have contributed immensely to this trend:
Brazil, India, China, Mexico, the Russian Federation, South Africa, and South Korea. The share of merchandise
exports of these countries in global exports increased from 10.6 per cent in 1995 to 17.2 per cent in 2005. The
total merchandise export of the 7 countries stood at US$1.76 trillion, while their aggregate exports in services
reached US$232 billion respectively in 2005. The merchandise export of these 7 countries grew at an annual
average rate of 11.6 per cent over the period of 1995-2005, while that of the developed economies grew by 5
per cent. During this period, service sector exports for the 7 countries increased by 10 per cent while, in
comparison, the developed countries registered an annual average growth of 6.2 per cent. The intra-
merchandise trade of the 7 countries has increased from US$83 billion in 1995 to US$513 billion in 2006. This
robust trade performance has contributed to the high economic growth rate of these countries – with the annual
real GDP growth of 5.7 per cent – in comparison to the rest of world. Apart from the 7 countries, several other
countries also demonstrated high GDP (6% and above) and trade growth rates: these include, among
developing countries, Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Peru, Thailand, Venezuela and
Vietnam, and, among countries with economies in transition, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Croatia, Kazakhstan and
2.2. Developing countries in international trade
The overall trade performance of developing countries is very telling. During 1995 to 2005,
the share of developing countries in world trade saw a three-fold increase, reaching an impressive
US$3.7 trillion. It accounted for 36 per cent of total merchandize exports – an all-time record. The
trade to GDP ratio increased for almost all groups of countries, indicating a greater openness on the
one hand, and trade dependence on the other (see Table 3). The importance of export earnings as a
source for development finance also increased
Table 3. Trade to GDP ratios
Economy 1995 2000 2005
World 43.3 50.3 56.4
Developed economies 38.3 44.5 49.4
Developing economies 61.7 69.9 78.0
Least developed countries (LDCs) 46.7 53.1 63.8
Source: UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics
Developing countries have also significantly increased their presence in developed economies
since the mid 1980s (see charts 1 and 2 below). Led largely by the developing Asia, particularly China,
exports from the South in 2005 accounted for 32 per cent of total imports by developed economies, as
compared to 25 per cent in 1985. As regards exports from developed countries to the South, it
remained at around 23 per cent during the same period, suggesting that the South is capturing a greater
market both in the North and in the South. Among developed countries, Japan reveals the strongest
trade linkage with the South. More than 60 per cent of Japan's imports are from the South, and more
than a half of its exports are destined to the South. The United States' imports from the South
accounted for 52 per cent in 2005, having steadily increased from 35 per cent in 1985. As for the EEC-
15, the share of the South in its import slightly fell between 1985 and 1995, reflecting a reduction in
imports from Africa. It then increased to 20 per cent in the period between 1995 and 2005, which is
about the same level as that of 1985, owing primarily to a substantial increase in imports from China.
The aggregate trade performance of developing countries has been impressive. However, it
has been neither a continuous process nor uniformly spread across developing regions. The newly
industrialized economies and China together account for almost the entire rise in the share of world
exports of developing countries taken as a group. China’s trade growth continued to outstrip other
major traders. China’s merchandise exports grew by 27 per cent. In the second half of 2006, its
merchandise exports started to exceed those of the United States, but for the whole year US exports
Chapter II 17
still exceeded those of China. The four regions with the highest share of fuels and other mining
products in their merchandise exports (the Middle East, Africa, the Commonwealth of Independent
States, and South and Central America) recorded the strongest annual export growth in 2006.
Except for a few industrializing economies in Asia and some dynamic developing countries,
the exports of other developing countries still concentrate on a limited range of natural resource-based
products (energy and raw materials) and/or manufactured products (such as textile and clothing) with
low value-addition. These have made for small (and often diminishing) returns. These developing
countries have also suffered from worsening terms-of -trade, highly volatile world prices, as well as
actually experienced a decline in their share in world trade. For example, the export share of the 50
LDCs – the majority of which are in sub-Saharan African and are commodity dependent – fell from
2.5 per cent in 1960 to about 0.5 per cent in 1995, and have since hovered around this level, rising
slightly to 0.8 per cent in 2006.
Chart 1. Developing countries’ trade with developed countries
On the import side, the developed countries remain the major market. Nevertheless, the share
of developing countries in world merchandise imports has also been increasing, rising to 32.1 per cent
in 2006, up from 28.6 per cent in 1995. The strong growth in developing country import demand in the
Share of SOUTH in total imports
1985 1990 1995 2000 2005
Australia EEC 15
Share of SOUTH in total exports
1985 1990 1995 2000 2005
18 Globalization for Development
last decade has been dominated by rapidly growing/developing Asia. This is particularly true of China
which, in 2006, absorbed about 6.5 per cent of world imports, up from 2.5 per cent in 1995. Thus,
while the exports of developing countries have increased, so too have their imports from all sources.
This proves that their increased exports have led to increased income growth which has led to
increased demand and import growth, thus spreading the benefits of trade-driven globalization.
2.3. New and dynamic sectors of world trade
It is also clear that increased participation in dynamic and new sectors of world trade is critical
to successful export performance and to development in general. The dynamic sectors of world trade
are those that have grown five times in value since 1995, and now constitute at least US$10 billion in
value. New sectors are also growing rapidly (double the rate of the world average), and include niche
and specialty goods and services for which the returns are very high.
Dynamic and new sectors are driven by a sustained rise in demand, shifts in consumer
preferences, and technological and skill-related developments. These sectors include beverages;
marine products; energy-based products (such as biofuels); minerals and metals in commodities;
manufactures such as electronics and electrical products; automotive parts; textiles and clothing items;
renewable energy equipment; and services (including IT-enabled services, computer and information
services, construction, travel and transport, telecom, audiovisual, financial and professional services,
and commercial services). As a group, these dynamic sectors grew on an average of 12 per cent
annually over the last decade. Many of them are based on new technologies with high value addition.14
The increasing participation of developing countries in world trade in these sectors is a
positive trend. Over the last ten years, the share of developing countries in the top 25 new and
dynamic products rose to 35 per cent in 2005. Even in niche products such as organic and
environmental goods and services, their contribution is rising. Such participation in new and dynamic
sectors enables developing countries to increase export earnings, augment value-addition and
diversification, as well as improve both the terms of trade and build technological capacity.
Sectoral reviews of new and dynamic sectors have been carried out by UNCTAD for the
purpose of strengthening developing countries participation through identifying policy pre-requisites
for successful productive capacity-building, competitiveness and better market access. Such reviews
have covered South-South trade in new and dynamic sectors, energy, electronics, fish and fishery
products, steel and related specialty products, IT-enabled outsourcing of services, renewable energy
products, including bio-fuels, and textiles and clothing. Particular attention is given in these sectoral
reviews to the needs of LDCs and African countries. These specific sectoral reviews indicate that the
ability of developing countries to participate and benefit from new and dynamic sectors depends on
productive capacity, competitiveness, and market access and entry conditions. Also, participation in
global production, value and distribution chains through trade and investment links is important to
enable developing countries to take advantage of opportunities in this regard.
Of special note among the dynamically growing sectors of world trade are creative industries
and the creative economy. Since 2000, creative industries globally have grown at an annual dynamic
rate of over 7 per cent, to reach an estimated global market value of US$1.3 trillion in 2005. These
industries – with strong cultural and creative components – include a number of sub-sectors from
traditional art and crafts, the visual and performing arts and music, to the more technological and
services-oriented fields such as publishing, audiovisuals, design, and the news media.15
For analyses of such sectors, see for example UNCTAD’s report on Strengthening participation of developing
countries in dynamic and new sectors of world trade: Trends, issues and policies (TD/B/COM.1/EM.26/2).
Further ideas are provided in the chair’s summary of the “Pre-conference event: Outcome of the Secretary-
General’s high-level panel on the creative economy and industries for development, Geneva, 14–15 January
Chapter II 19
Recent growth in trade in creative industries has been particularly high in OECD countries as
well as in a number of leading developing countries. Between 1996 and 2005, world trade in the
creative industries nearly doubled to stand at US$208 billion in 2005. A notable feature of these trends
has been the sharp rise in the share of developing countries in world exports in this category,
increasing from 24 per cent in 1996 to 40 per cent in 2005. The increase was accounted for mainly by
exports from Asian developing countries, which arose from 22 per cent of world trade in 1996 to 37
per cent in 2005. There is much potential also for LDCs to benefit from production and trade in
creative industries as also for Latin American, Caribbean and African countries. LDCs could benefit
from production and trade in their traditional and distinctive arts and crafts as well as music.
2.4. Analyzing trade and development performance: The TDI
Regarding overall trade performance, interesting findings emerge from the systematic
examination of the interaction between structural/institutional context, trade policies/processes and the
trade and development performance provided by UNCTAD's Trade and Development Index (TDI)
2007.16 The TDI provides both a quantitative indication and an analytical framework to identify how
well trade and development are integrated in an individual country, based not only on its trade and
development performance, but also on key factors affecting this joint performance. In addition, the
TDI also offers a useful new tool for comparative studies among countries/regions regarding their
trade and development performance. TDI national scores are a composite quantitative indication
describing the interaction between development and trade performance.
TDI scores have improved (from 2005 to 2007) in all the regions, with the exception of a
marginal decline for North America. All the seven emerging economies have shown a ‘climbing up’ in
TDI scores. The major exporters of energy as well as commodity dependent countries have also shown
positive improvements in TDI since 2005. Nominally, TDI scores have risen the most in sub-Saharan
Africa, the Middle East and North Africa. However, this improvement still leaves huge gaps in
development levels between developing countries, transition economies and developed countries. It is
also interesting to note that several developing countries with a formerly centrally managed economy
or a strong governmental planning role (such as China, Malaysia and Viet Nam) have witnessed the
most exceptional economic and trade performance in recent years. This is so despite the fact of their
not having bilateral trade or investment agreements, or any significant ‘guidance’ by the Bretton
Woods institutions. Their experience with trade-led globalization could provide important
development lessons for other countries.
The TDI-2007 incorporates a number of refinements following suggestions from governments
and the academic community. Thus three new components have been added to the structural and
institutional context dimension, namely: domestic finance resources, international finance resources,
and macroeconomic stability in addition to six components contained in the TDI-2005 (i.e. human
capital, physical infrastructure, financial environment, economic structure, institutional quality and
environmental sustainability). Further more, two new components, trade performance and economic
and social well-being have been added to the newly defined ‘trade and development performance’
dimension (in lieu of dimension “level of development” in the TDI-2005). In addition, a number of
new indicators have been added, including: gross domestic savings, total external debt service and
short-term debt, regulatory quality and control of corruption, the inflation and current account balance,
female to male income share and female labour force participation in total labour force, and the adult
literacy ratio as an education indicator. The third TDI dimension – ‘trade policies and processes’
remained the same as in the TDI-2005. As a result, the new TDI incorporates 3 dimensions, 13
components and 34 specific indicators (the TDI-2005 comprised 3 dimensions, 11 components and 29
indicators). UNCTAD’s TDI is an example of policymaking tools available to UNCTAD member
UNCTAD, Developing Countries in International Trade 2007: Trade and Development Index
20 Globalization for Development
States for identifying existing strengths and weaknesses of their institutional and policy environment,
and development strategies including in achieving the MDGs by 2015.
2.5. Fostering an enabling environment: Easing market access, market entry and
releasing the competitive productive capacities of developing countries
One size or one set of rules does not fit all. This fact must be taken into account in global rule-
making while trying to ensure optimum trade and development outcomes. Trade rules affect a much
greater array of domestic policies and regulations than ever before, thus placing an additional strain on
policymaking and institution building, especially in developing countries. Successful development
outcomes from trade are mediated by policies and institutions that direct the surplus earned through
trade towards activities that promote economic growth, thereby initiating a cumulative
trade/growth/development spiral. The transition to greater reliance on formal institutions is not easy.
The design, targeting, sequencing and pace of the transition require care for the transition to be
Developed countries and institutions could make their contribution through aid for
diversification, institutional and technical support, and through the provision of better market access
and entry for the exports from developing countries. For their part, successful trade policymaking in
developing countries will depends upon cooperative and collegial approach among all national level
stakeholders with an interest in trade-related matters. Governments need to place more emphasis on
mainstreaming trade into development and, for this purpose, extensively and continuously consult with
all stakeholders in the public, private, and civil society, including academia. In turn, these stakeholders
have an interest in participating and contributing actively to trade policy formulation and decision
making so that they can use trade as an engine of development. UNCTAD's TDI can serve as an
innovative diagnostic and policymaking tool for assessing the overall interactions and interdependence
among various factors in the trade and development process.
Identifying the ways and means of strengthening the trade integration of developing countries
that are marginalized from the dynamism in international trade and development gains has to be an
important plank of coherent national and international efforts. Central to this approach must be a focus
on improving market access, market entry and competitiveness of developing countries.17 Promoting
trade agreements and negotiations at the multilateral, regional, and bilateral levels to build up market
access and entry as well as enabling conditions for the continued expansion of the trade of developing
countries will be important in this regard. Addressing non-tariff barriers in major markets has to be
central in providing genuine market access and entry for the export of goods and services from
developing countries. Augmenting the competitive productive capacities of developing countries and
enhancing their participation in value-chains with higher returns (such as in new and dynamic sectors
of world trade), deserves a more focused, in-depth and sustained attention that is both coherent and
also coordinates international support measures with national development priorities. It is necessary to
adopt specific strategies for selecting sectors with existing and potential comparative advantage in a
developing country. Then actions can be undertaken to build supply capacity and competitiveness
through appropriate enabling and supportive policies as well as private sectors initiatives.
Public-private partnerships in trade and investment can promote international trade with a
focus on promoting development as well as meeting global and national development priorities. In
order to strengthen the participation of developing countries in new and dynamic sectors, public-
private partnerships will be needed. A trend-setting example in this regard is the UNCTAD-Philips
initiative on the electronic/electrical sector in southern Africa (see Box 5). As the Philips initiative
shows, moves to set up trade-related industries and FDI in sub-Saharan Africa could set an example of
For more details, see for example UNCTAD report on Market access, market entry and competitiveness
Chapter II 21
the corporate world undertaking responsibility for development and of creating stakes for developing
countries in trade-driven liberalization and globalization.
Public-private partnerships serve a variety of purposes relating to FDI and the transfer of
technology, and productive capacity-building. Global enterprises can take up these challenges vis-à-vis
weak and vulnerable enterprises that have been prevented from participating in the new, dynamic and
high-return segments of international trade. This is particularly true of commodity-dependent countries,
small and vulnerable economies and LDCs.
Box 5. Lighting up SADC
UNCTAD and Royal Philips Electronics Corporation are engaged in a project with a view to establishing
energy saving light-bulb industry in the Southern African (SADC) region. The project seeks to strengthen
cooperation among SADC Members by creating competitive supply capacities in energy saving light-bulb
products; promoting trade among SADC countries; promoting energy saving in the SADC region to meet the
challenge of rising energy costs; and improving environmental sustainability by reducing green gas emissions.
The project is an example of UNCTAD's innovative approaches to promoting public-private cooperation and
partnerships geared towards the development of new and competitive productive capacities in African
countries, which strengthens their participation in new and dynamic sector of international trade. This in turn
contributes to their industrialisation whilst also serving the purpose of promoting energy security.
Systematic monitoring and the research and analysis of international trade flows, trends and
patterns will be essential for providing updated information and data for trade policy formulation,
trade negotiations and business operations. All these will also be necessary for the exploitation of new
trading opportunities in promoting trade, economic growth and development.
22 Globalization for Development
THE DYNAMIC SOUTH AND SOUTH-SOUTH TRADE AND
3.1. Dynamic South and South-South trade dynamism
North-South trade remains important, with the North providing the main markets for
developing countries as whole. In parallel, South-South trade has emerged from the peripheries of
world trade to becoming more and more central, both in terms of quantity and quality.
As more and more developing countries especially large, populous and dynamic ones grow
economically, accelerate the pace of their development and diversify their productive base, they
provide bigger and higher value markets for the South’s commodities, manufactures and services. In
turn, they draw upon South’s rich natural resource base and cost/quality competitive goods and
services to power their economic growth, meet their food and energy security and build infrastructure.
This emergence of South-South economic interdependence is already setting new modes of trading
and investing. If such trade and cooperation is conducted in mutually beneficially manner, it has the
potential to be highly development “transmitting”.
Integral to this major change has been the rise of a group of dynamically growing, trading and
investing developing countries that are spawning global enterprises involved in production, trade, and
investment in both developed and developing countries. These active developing countries are
climbing up the value chain in international trade to produce and sell higher value-added products.
Moreover, countries like Brazil, China, India and South Africa are combining the two key ingredients
of global competitiveness in trade – low-cost labour and a growing high-tech knowledge base – and
are thus spurring the competitiveness of the South. This has lent a major impetus to South-South trade
and the promise of new trade and economic complementarities. Moreover, the dynamic South helps
raise the buying and selling power of the South as a whole, providing an engine of global growth. As
new drivers of trade integration, the dynamic South is contributing to the maximization of advantages
from trade, investment, and technology, as well as technical and financial flows into other countries of
the South and the North.
There has been a marked shift in the composition of the exports of developing countries taken
as a group, with manufactures now accounting for about 70 per cent of their exports. The
manufacturing sectors also represent a large part of South-South trade, rising from 35 per cent in 1995
to 42 per cent in 2005. The most traded goods in 2005 included high-end manufacturing goods, such
as electrical machinery and equipment (22 per cent), computers, other machinery and mechanical
appliances (11 per cent). These also formed the most dynamically growing sectors in world trade. Fuel
is the second-most traded sector (21 per cent), followed by base metals and products (7 per cent), and
textiles and articles (6 per cent). The share of fuels’ share in total South-South trade increased from 13
to 21 per cent between 1995 and 2005, reflecting the rise in oil prices.
South-South merchandise trade has expanded dynamically, increasing from US$577 billion in
1995 to US$1.7 trillion in 2005 – a threefold increase in 10 years. 18 This has resulted in the
concomitant increase in the South-South share of world merchandise exports, rising up to 15 per cent
in 2005, up from 11 per cent in 1995. South-South trade performance in recent years has indeed been
impressive. In 2005, 46 per cent of the total merchandise export of developing countries went to each
other, as compared to 40 per cent in 1995. Developing countries are increasingly trading with each
other. With such current growth rates it is likely that, by the end of the decade, over one half of the
trade of developing countries will be with each other.
Trade data sourced from UNCTAD's new South-South Trade Information System.
24 Globalization for Development
A few developing countries dominate South-South trade, however. Those with the highest
value of exports to the South in 2005 include China, Hong Kong China, the Republic of Korea,
Singapore and Saudi Arabia. The share of South-South exports in the total exports of these countries
was generally higher than the South's average (36 per cent). The majority of developing countries have
yet to be more fully integrated into South-South trade and to benefit from its recent dynamism.
3.2. Growth of intraregional and interregional trade
Intraregional developing country trade is the mainstay of South-South trade, having grown
impressively between 1995 and 2005. However, there is a preponderant dominance by intra-
developing Asia trade which accounts currently for over 80 per cent of such trade (see Chart 2). The
Asian region has experienced increasing intraregional flows of intermediate goods, as well as
interregional supply of final goods and natural resources. RTAs among developing countries and other
informal trade networks have emerged to provide the enabling framework for the liberalization,
facilitation, and conduct of intraregional trade, investment and technological exchanges.
Chart 2. Intra and Interregional Trade among Developing Countries
The Americas Africa
$48.9 billion $61.4 billion $50.2 billion $56.1 billion
$9.3 billionIntra Americas Intra Africa
$94.27 billion $27.13 billion
South-South Export (2005): Total = $1,699.8 billion
Interregional South-South trade has experienced significant growth in recent years largely as a
result of rapidly developing Asia's demand for energy and industrial raw materials, and its exports of
manufactures to other developing regions. The importance of the South as an export destination is
growing in all developing regions with general South-South trade dynamism.
South-South trade has become a particularly dynamic element of the world commodity trade
due higher growth rates in developing countries where the per capita consumption of commodities has
been increasing rapidly. South-South trade in commodities, especially energy and minerals, constitutes
a new window of opportunity to be seized and exploited in the coming decade. Table 4 shows
developments over the period 2000 to 2006, indicating that the developing countries have a rising
share in each others commodity trade. Commodities account for between 25 to 74 per cent of total
exports of different developing countries. More strikingly the share of developing countries imports of
commodities from other developing countries in total merchandise trade increased from 60 to 70 per
cent during the same 6-year period. There is every reason to believe that the share of South-South
trade will continue to grow rapidly. This South-South commodity trade dynamism has led to increases
Chapter III 25
in commodity prices and improvements in terms of trade for producers. Such increases should be put
to good use in supporting development and poverty reduction. Important measures of success will
include the extent to which value addition accrues to the country, revenues are channelled towards
investment in social and physical infrastructure, employment is generated, and market access and
entry enhanced and facilitated.
2000 2004 2005 2006 2000 2004 2005 2006
Developing economies: Africa 74 73 75 74 49 43 42 43
Developing economies: America (Latin America and Caribbean) 54 54 57 60 38 31 30 30
Developing economies: Asia 25 23 24 25 30 29 30 33
Developing economies 31 28 30 31 32 30 31 34
Sources: UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2006-07 (2000, 2004 and 2005 figures) and GlobStat database (2006 provisional figures)
Note: Primary commodities, including fuels = SITC 0 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 68 (Revision 3)
2000 2004 2005 2006 2000 2004 2005 2006
Developing economies: Africa 29 30 30 29 54 57 57 64
Developing economies: America (Latin America and Caribbean) 29 30 34 36 54 54 54 59
Developing economies: Asia 46 49 47 49 62 63 64 72
Developing economies 39 41 41 42 60 61 62 70
Sources: UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2006-07 (2000, 2004 and 2005 figures) and GlobStat database (2006 provisional figures)
Note: Primary commodities, including fuels = SITC 0 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 68 (Revision 3)
Table 4. South-South commodity trade
Share of commodity in exports to
Share of commodity in imports
from developing countries,
Share of commodity exports to
in total commodity exports,
Share of commodity imports from
in total commodity imports,
Thus, there is thus tremendous potential that can be unleashed through deliberate cooperative
initiatives serving as the hub for trade, investment and general economic cooperation among
developing countries. These include the IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) initiative, NAASP (New
Asian African Strategic Partnership) and, most importantly, the Global System of Trade Preferences
among Developing Countries (GSTP). The South Summit also provides an overarching framework
within which strategic guidance, direction, and support can be provided at the highest political level to
promoting the South's development and South-South trade. Moreover, trade between developing
countries and countries with economies in transition can be developed and strengthened (see Box 6).
Box 6. China-Africa Trade and Investment – A New Partnership in South-South Trade Development
Merchandise trade between China and Africa has grown on average by 30 per cent over the past 5 years to
reach a value of US$55.5 billion in 2006. China’s exports to Africa amounted to US$26.7 billion in 2006, while
imports were US$28.8 billion. China’s export of services to Africa has also been developing rapidly. In 2006,
Chinese corporations achieved a turnover of US$9.5 billion on construction services exports to Africa. Since
2000, Chinese corporations have built over 6,000 kilometers of road and eight large to mid-sized electricity
stations in Africa. At the same time, China’s investments in Africa have been increasing. In 2006, direct
investments from China in Africa totaled US$370 million and went into textiles (Guinea), wood (Gabon), and
manufacturing (TV sets in South Africa). By the end of 2006, China had invested US$6.3 billion in Africa,
covering agriculture, communications, energy and manufacturing. Such investment is contributing to building
productive capacity in Africa, and enhancing its trading potential. There are a number of complementarities in
China-Africa trade. With a population of 800 million, Africa offers a market of great potential – gradually
emerging as a result of the past 11 consecutive years of economic growth – for Chinese exports. China has
commodities, technologies and advanced management methods adaptable to the economic development of
African countries. The cost-competitive exports of Chinese consumer goods have made many previously
unaffordable goods accessible to the poorer sections of the African population. In addition, Africa benefits from
China’s increasing investment that brings necessary capital support for their development. Thus, the prospects
for China-Africa cooperation in many fields such as infrastructure, agriculture, telecommunications, energy and
manufacturing are very bright.
26 Globalization for Development
As regards trade in services, despite the paucity of directional trade data in services, UNCTAD
estimates (based on a recent study by OECD) 19 indicate that trade (exports and imports) in
intraregional services accounts for the vast majority of South-South services trade of developing
countries. Data shows that intraregional services trade accounts for 57, 71 and 94 per cent of South-
South services trade for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Asia and Oceania,
respectively. Intraregional services trade is particularly significant in Asia and Oceania since as much
as half of its total services trade is directed to the region. This figure remains below 20 per cent in
other developing country regions. For developing countries, much of regional trade reflects trade in
commercial services, such as freight transportation, tourism, construction, and business services.
However, the scope of traded services, and correspondingly the magnitude of services trade flows, is
expanding rapidly as countries progressively privatize and liberalize those services.
The emergence of a dynamic South has led to a substantial increase in producer demand for
resources (including commodities), the fostering of new markets, and a rise in the consumer demand
for a variety of competitively priced goods. The expansion of South-South trade has also given a new
impetus to regional and interregional trade as well as to economic integration schemes. This is
facilitated by – and is contributing to – positive diversification in the export-import basket, better
terms of trade, competition, as well as new and additional markets and sources of supply for
developing countries. However, many challenges remain and need to be addressed. These include the
likelihood of the fallacy of composition in certain sectors (i.e. that increases in the export of these
sectors by many countries may flood the market, and thus drive down price for all countries), the lack
of diversification and value addition among commodity producers (especially African countries),
physical infrastructure and trade facilitation (logistic) bottlenecks, limited complementarities between
many countries, as well as the marginalization and crowding out of LDCs and small and vulnerable
economies (especially in textiles and clothing, electronics and other products) in the face of more
3.3. Trade between developing countries and countries with economies in transition
The recent period of 2000-2006 witnessed a surge of merchandise trade between developing
countries and countries with economies in transition. Exports from developing countries to the latter
increased by more than 382 per cent in 2000-2006, from US$ 14.1 billion to US$ 68 billion.20 The
growth of their imports from countries with economies in transition was also impressive. During the
same period, such import increased by 123 per cent, from US$ 31.1 billion to US$ 69.4 billion.
In terms of export product structure, the most dynamic exports from developing countries
were: animal and animal products (2,263 per cent growth), various vehicles (965 per cent), base metals
and products (946 per cent), aircraft, ships and boats (754 per cent) and other manufactured articles
(519 per cent). On the other hand, the most dynamic products of developing countries' imports from
countries with economies in transition were: fuels (453 per cent growth), vegetable products (311 per
cent), ores and minerals (284 per cent) and miscellaneous manufactured articles (267 per cent).
Analysis of these trade flows, which, to a large extent, are only now emerging, suggests that a strong
pattern of complementarity is gradually evolving in trade between these two groups of countries.
3.4. Fostering an enabling environment: Development-transmitting South and South-
There is a new window of opportunity for developing countries and the international
community to support the emergence of the dynamic South in the wider effort to assist developing
countries in maximizing development benefits from trade and investment driven globalization. The
Nora Dihel, Felix Eschenbach and Ben Shepherd, "South-South Services Trade", OECD Trade Policy
Working Paper No. 39, OECD Trade Directorate (17 October 2006).
All data is from UNCTAD South-South Trade Information System (SSTIS).
Chapter III 27
tendency to resort to neo-protectionism measures – especially in industrialized countries – against
rising merchandise/services exports or investments from South (or into the South) should be arrested,
even ruled out. This should be done through awareness and confidence building measures, and policy
deliberations (a coherent and coordinated development dialogue) with all the concerned stakeholders.
UNCTAD, as in the past, can play a constructive mediating role in such dialogue.
The emerging South is also rapidly building trade and economic relations with other
developing countries, including LDCs. What is important to emphasize is that unlike in the 1960-
1970s, the dynamic South-South cooperation is driven today by economic factors and, in fact by the
globalization itself. These positive and encouraging trends should be strengthened, widened and
deepened so that developing countries still at the periphery of South-South cooperation can be
mainstreamed and become beneficiaries of the new trade geography, in addition to their efforts to
integrate into the international trading system.
A simulation exercise shows that the removal of South-South barriers has the potential to
generate gains 40 per cent larger than those obtained with the opening up of all Northern markets to all
developing countries.21 The results imply that giving greater emphasis to removing barriers between as
well as within continents could prove a successful Southern survival strategy. Moreover, with South–
South trade liberalization, interregional exports within developing regions increase dramatically.
Compared with North–South liberalization, South–South liberalization is accompanied by a larger
overall impact in manufacturing sectors relative to agricultural products sectors. This is mostly the
consequence of the removal of initially relatively higher tariff rates imposed on South-South trade in
manufactures. Ultimately, South-South liberalization should add to multilateral liberalization and
stimulate global trade generally.
There is also a need to support the new dynamism in South-South trade to ensure that it
sustains its role as a major motor of world economic growth, especially against the latest
developments and predictions regarding economic slowdown and even potential recession in the
leading developed economies from 2008 to 2010. Such support will also require effective and coherent
policies for regional development, coordinated at sub-regional, regional, and interregional levels.22
The dynamic South and South-South trade dynamism equally demands institutional and regulatory
changes, adaptation and innovation, both in respect of South-South and North-South cooperation. In
particular, South-South trade liberalization needs to be consolidated and pursued further, including
through more rapid and complete implementation and rationalization of South-South RTAs.
Investments in R&D and technological cooperation at the regional level will be required as well to
build the scientific and technological basis for future South-South trade and economic relations,
including raising levels of technological complementarity among developing countries.
The impact of a dynamic and rising South is already prominent in the international trading
system in the form of the proactive participation and the decisive role of developing countries and
their groupings in WTO trade negotiations in all areas. The Doha negotiations marked a departure
point not only because they formally placed development at the heart of the work programme, but also
because developing countries have been effectively pursuing a positive agenda whilst also trying to
secure their policy flexibility related to larger development concerns. This positive agenda of
developing countries addresses issues in both market access and systemic multilateral rules with a
view to ensure that in the outcome of the Doha Round, development dividends will be meaningful and
operational. Developing country issue based coalitions such as G-20, G-33, NAMA-XI, G-90, G-
Fugazza M and D. Vanzetti (forthcoming). A South-South survival strategy: the potential for trade among
developing countries. The World Economy.
See UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Report 2007 (UNCTAD/TDR/2007) for an assessment of key
policies for strengthening South-South trade and economic integration processes.
28 Globalization for Development
110,23 have been playing a key role. It is also significant that the Quad which used to be composed of
developed countries alone has been complemented by the G-4 involving USA and EU and developing
countries like India and Brazil. This is a sign of the times and an indication that the MTS and the
global trade governance it represents is and should be increasingly adapting to the new realities in the
geography of international trade. More needs to be done, however, to reflect the expansion of WTO
members to 152, the majority of which are developing countries, and to respond effectively to their
varying trade and development conditions and specific needs.
In North-South RTAs and free trade agreements too, there is a shift by leading trading nations
like EU and US to enter into such agreements with countries not only geographical contiguous to them
but also with regional and subregional groupings of developing countries further a field. Examples
include the EU-Mercosur or EU-ASEAN free trade agreement negotiations. Moreover, countries like
China, Japan, India and the Republic of Korea which previously shun RTAs and relied on multilateral
trade liberalization are engaging other regional and extra-regional partners. There is now a new
generation of North-South RTAs emerging, many of which are replacing unilateral preferences in
favour of developing countries with reciprocal concessions among countries at substantially different
levels of development. This is a new phenomenon which requires careful analyses to ensure that these
agreements provide real, effective and additional market access for developing country exports, and
promote broader development partnerships. At the same time calibrating developing countries’
participation in these RTAs to sequence and pace liberalization in a manner consistent with their trade,
development and financial capacities will determining the pro-development outcome of such
An enabling environment for development of the South and South-South trade can include,
among other things: opportunities for greater FDI flows to and from the South; facilitating R&D and
technological cooperation and transfer to the South in key areas of transformational production and
development including in pro-poor technologies; increasing universal access to essential services; and
promoting energy efficient, eco-friendly technologies and renewable energy sources. Trade
agreements should spur industrialization, help improve agricultural productivity and food security as
well as help build competitive services sectors and new export capacity. Aid to trade and development
should be made available to cushion partly the adjustment costs for developing countries arising from
trade liberalization and reforms on account of RTAs and WTO agreements. Deeper productive
capacity and infrastructure building should be a key objective and outcome of RTAs to enable
developing countries to take advantage of trade liberalization opportunities.
Trade, investment and development cooperation policies of the developed countries are
critical for continued dynamism of ‘development multiplying’ South’s engines of regional and global
trade as well as for ‘development transmitting’ stimulus of South-South trade, investment and
technology transfer. To some extent, adaptations in this direction are already happening in that the
developed countries are entering into RTAs with South-South groupings. Arrangements such as the
EU-ACP economic partnership agreements should be so tailored as to enhance both a market access
package and a substantial capacity developing package which will have an impact sub-regionally and
The G20 is a group of developing countries’ members of the WTO with major agricultural export interests.
The Group was formed immediately prior to the 5th WTO Ministerial Conference in September 2003. Members
of the G20 include: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Mexico,
Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, the Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Uruguay, Venezuela and
Zimbabwe. The G-33 is an alliance of some 40 developing countries’ members of the WTO with the majority of
the world’s small vulnerable resource-poor farmers. The NAMA-11 comprise WTO developing country
members with existing and potential industrial production and development capacities: Argentina, Brazil, Egypt,
India, Indonesia, Namibia, Philippines, South Africa, Tunisia, and Venezuela. The G90 groups together the
African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, the member States of the African Union, and the Least-
Developed Countries (LDCs). The G110 is a coalition of 110 developing countries members of the WTO that
was formed at the 6th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2006.
Chapter III 29
regionally. At the same time, as stipulated in the Cotonou Agreement, ACP countries should be
provided concrete special and differential treatment.
Preferential trade schemes, both unilateral and “free trade” concessions provided by the North
to the South as part of RTAs, could include South-South cumulation provisions in the rules of origin.
This would stimulate South-South investment and trade and ensure that the dynamic South’s
globalisation drive is harnessed to boost the rest of the South’s trade. In addition, participation of some
developing countries in Northern enterprises led global production and distribution chains is also
generating South-South trade. This form of intra-firm triangular cooperation (North–South-South),
however, needs to be further encouraged especially in terms of increased value chain participation by
developing countries. Some duty free, quota free schemes have been notified or announced by
developing countries for LDCs as a measure of development solidarity. These countries include China,
India, Morocco, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkey.24
As regards other trade related institutions and policies of global economic governance, it is
evident from the G-8’s and OECD’s outreach programmes directed at dialogue with some big
emerging economies, that developing country voice and perspective is essential if global economic
governance is to be credible, inclusive and effective. With regard to the international monetary and
financial systems too, need for institutional adaptation to reflect the growing trade and development
role and impact of developing countries is being recognized. There is a move albeit not as much and as
fast as it should be, to increase the voice and participation of developing countries in multilateral
financial institutions – the World Bank and the IMF and their decision making process. Global macro-
economic policy management, including addressing global trade and current account imbalances in a
coherent way along with multilateral surveillance and disciplining of monetary and financial markets
is imperative and must involve developing countries.
It is important that the dynamic trade performance by some developing countries should not
be mistaken for their having overcome their inherent and persistent trade and development constraints
and challenges. It must be realized that most still deserve development support and special and
differential treatment in terms of both trade and aid policies. Recent studies by the World Bank
highlights how big development challenge even dynamic low-income trade and economic performers
like China and India face in catching up with developed countries even when their per capita income is
measured in PPP (purchasing power parity) terms. Similarly, UNCTAD’s Trade and Development
Index shows that the emerging developing countries are still quite low in the rankings on account of
widespread poverty, infrastructure deficits, weak financial intermediation facilities, and structural and
They, like in the North, but probably even more face the daunting task of ensuring more
equitable and widely distributed trade and development gains for all their regions and populations
including the urban and rural poor and women. The inequality gap within developing countries, often
accentuated by trade driven globalization needs to be bridged. Reliance on a trickle down of economic
growth will not be adequate to address such inequalities - proactive policies need to be followed by
developing countries to spread the benefits of trade growth more inclusively.
The emergence of changes in South-South trade call for new and well adapted South-South
institutions, strategies, policies and measures at all levels. Development strategies of the South should
and are increasingly factoring in economic cooperation with other countries of the South especially as
regards trade, investment, technology transfer and social development programmes. Awareness raising
about successful development models, projects and best practices and their replication would be an
important area of South-South cooperation. Institutions for sharing such experiences and models at
See WTO, “Market Access for Products and Services of Export Interest to Least-Developed Countries"
(WT/COMTD/LDC/W/41, 16 October 2007, p.44-48).
30 Globalization for Development
regional and interregional levels would be required and would involve government, private sector and
civil society participation.
A new look needs to be given to initiatives such as the South Bank both as regional and inter-
regional concepts. Initiatives such as the Global Network of Export Import Banks and Development
Financial Institutions (GNEXID) promoted under UNCTAD auspices could play a significant role in
supporting South-South trade and development finance. Regional and inter-regional monetary unions
and arrangements are also ideas whose time may have come for operationalization. The Bank of the
South (Banco del Sur) launched in December 2007 by several Latin American countries (Argentina,
Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Venezuela) is a concrete step towards promoting financial and
monetary cooperation among these countries in support of their mutual trade, investment and
development. Developing and implementing regional standards on TBT and SPS can be effective in
South-South trade promotion. The South Fund for Development and Humanitarian Assistance,
launched at the Second South Summit could useful support and sustain the South-South dynamism.
This is a seminal period for the evolution of South-South trade and investment models in
sectors ranging from minerals, metals and fuels, manufacturing and services. There is some
expectation that as developing country enterprises operate and deal with other developing countries,
there will be greater mutual understanding of development imperatives and conditions. Similarly, there
is indication that South-South trade and investment cooperation, export credits and project
implementation especially in infrastructure, need to be moulded so as to be ‘development transmitting’
models. This would involve public-private partnerships that help build permanent capacity, physical
and social infrastructure, transfer technology, create jobs, contribute to value addition, and build
competitive productive structures and institutions. The flying-geese model that worked in the Asian
regional context needs to be adapted to inter-regional Asian, African and Latin American contexts,
while respecting their traditions and individual development paths. A “one-size-fits-all” approach will
not work here as it has not worked on a global scale.
Considerable expansion in inter-regional South-South trade especially since 2000, with a
number of developing countries among top five global trading partners, represents an exciting new
phenomenon of international trade. The major change in South-South economic and trade interaction
is in terms of the reality that the new dynamism is market driven with enterprises of the South and the
North linking up Southern economies and markets through intra- and inter-firm and intra- and inter-
industry networks and transactions. Increasing complementarities and capacities of developing country
enterprises have played an important part. However, policy driven South-South trade liberalization
still remains rather limited, inconclusive and needs to be advanced, while trade promotion and
facilitation combined with deeper economic integration and institutional cooperation should play a
more critical role in expanding South-South trade and investment both regionally and inter-regionally.
Although South-South RTAs have been active in driving regional economic integration for
over several decades, their implementation in terms of coverage and commercial benefits requires a lot
better performance. Many of them have hub and spoke formations with some key developing countries
propelling such integration in accordance with their perceived interests. These have given rise to
increasing regional division of labour in general, greater complementarities and new value chain
creation. However, new institutional mechanisms for tapping and encouraging the entrepreneurial,
capital, technological and labour related resources of the South for the benefit of the whole South need
to be evolved. Regional trade liberalization needs to be deepened and complemented by a provision of
finance and capital for building the required physical, air, rail, road and maritime transport
infrastructure and trade related institutions such as those for standards, testing and conformity
assessment, and mutual recognition of qualifications, technical regulations and standards. Special and
differential provisions for less developed participants of South-South RTAs are also required as
expression of economic wisdom and development solidarity. Such new generation arrangements
should enable developing countries to leverage their existent and dynamically progressing
comparative advantage vis-à-vis each other and in their relationships with the North, including in
Chapter III 31
possible triangular cooperation arrangements, which should be clearly defined and not confined only
to ODA-type projects, but also based on economically viable commercial and investment endeavours.
In this regard, the private sectors both from South and North should play a leading role supported by
government facilitating policies.
In this regard, comprehensive and progressive inter-regional South-South trade liberalization
is being attempted through the third round of negotiations under the Global System of Trade
Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP) that were launched at UNCTAD XI. As a first step,
modalities for tariff liberalization on applied rates with special consideration for LDCs and requisite
rules are being finalized towards adoption at UNCTAD XII. It will be expected that this will lead to
further negotiations to cover NTBs and services in subsequent rounds. The GSTP has the potential to
become a true catalyst for a deeper and more inclusive South-South trade liberalization, particularly by
giving impetus to inter-regional South-South trade and investment and to economic cooperation
among developing countries (ECDC) generally.
Trade between developing countries and countries with economies in transition is emerging
strongly. New initiatives in terms of trade agreements, institutions, and trade promotion activities can
be developed and implement to build up such trade further to the mutual benefit of developing
countries and countries with economies in transition.
Finally, the emerging big Southern performers are themselves benefiting increasingly from
trade and economic expansion. The challenge is also to ensure that these economic gains are more
equitably distributed inside their societies, while their policies aim at providing universal access to the
benefits of impressive economic growth, especially in case of poor segments of their populations. The
emerging South’s ever increasing population and enterprises with progressively augmented purchasing
power and rising demand for resources has already become a major impetus to regional and inter-
regional trade and economic development, as well as a substantial driver of global trade and economic
growth in recent years. Other countries of the South also benefit from larger and fast growing markets
which they can access and get better terms of trade and returns for their exports. It enables them to
diversify away from their dependence on Northern markets for their exports and imports as well as for
FDI and technologies. For North too, this is a win-win scenario as rapid and increased economic
growth and trade capacity in dynamic developing countries and markets enables the North to increase
their exports, particularly of high value-added goods and services, while putting off pressure, to some
extent, on their imports from emerging economies. Furthermore, both developing country and
developed country consumers benefit from cost quality competitive imports from the dynamic
developing countries. In this regard therefore it would be counter-productive to view the rise of new
dynamic engines of the South in international trade and investment as anything but a positive-sum
phenomenon for all. The fact that more and more developing countries are increasing their stakes in
freer and more open international trade should be welcomed and encouraged.
32 Globalization for Development
RE-LAUNCHING THE COMMODITY AGENDA
4.1. Opportunities offered by the recent commodity boom
Since 2002, there has been a ‘commodity boom.’ International commodity prices showed a
strong upward trend after their sharp fall in 1995-1997 to 2002. UNCTAD’s commodity price index
(including fuels) in current US dollar terms has risen 96 per cent since 2002. The rise in prices has
been driven by the boom in the prices of metals and minerals which have increased by 191 per cent,
and those of crude oil which have risen by 140 per cent. Price increases for agricultural raw materials
and tropical beverages taken as groups averaged between 58 per cent and 45 per cent, respectively.
The relative importance of factors behind the price increases differs from commodity to
commodity. However there are some common factors. These include the strong growth in import
demand of developing countries, owing to the rapid pace of industrialization, especially in China (see
Box 7), India and other emerging developing countries; the increased production of biofuels which
mainly affects the markets for food products by pushing up the price of land and adding to effective
demand for some products that are used both for food and for biofuel (for instance, sugar cane and
maize); as well as emerging supply constraints in some commodity markets.
A sustained increase in the demand for commodities by emerging countries – which appears
likely – will continue to provide additional opportunities for increased commodity exports by
developing countries. Although the Asian import demand has centred on industrial raw materials
(minerals and mining products and agricultural raw materials), the rising consumer purchasing power
in the developing Asia region has also boosted the demand for some agro-food commodities (such as
coffee, tea and cocoa) which had been facing stagnant or falling demand in the traditional OECD
markets. This additional source of demand has contributed to a general recovery of commodity prices
and improved prospects for commodity producing countries. Sustained growth in the United States
and economic recovery in Japan and Europe have also been contributing factors.
Box 7. Chinese demand for commodities
Rapidly expanding Chinese demand has been a particularly important factor for many commodities. China
remains the principal consumer of a wide range of metals (steel, copper, aluminium, zinc and lead) and of
several other commodities (cotton and rubber). Chinese iron ore imports increased by 85 per cent between 2003
and 2005, accounting for almost 40 per cent of world imports in the latter year. Chinese iron ore imports
increased by 32 per cent in 2005, constituting the sixth consecutive year of double-digit growth.
As regards minerals and metals, world supply has not been able to catch up with strong
demand growth since investments in new production capacity have been low over a long period due to
a prolonged period of low prices. The long lead times in mining investment have made it harder for
mining companies to meet the growth in demand. Inventories of metals have been drawn down, and
have remained at extremely low levels for the past few years. Also, while supply-and-demand
fundamentals determine the direction of the price trend, speculators seeking higher returns than those
offered by financial assets have enhanced the tightness of the metals markets. From 2002, copper,
nickel and zinc prices increased by 136, 118 and 74 per cent, respectively. This trend continued in the
first half of 2006, with zinc and copper prices rising by 70 per cent on their 2005 level, and nickel by
45 per cent.
Oil prices continued to rise in 2006 and reached US$78 per barrel in July of that year and
US$100 in 2007. As in the case of metals, Chinese demand growth (Chinese imports in 2005 were
about two and a half times those in 2003), as well as speculation were significant factors. Worries
about potential disruptions to supply (arising from events in several oil producing countries, including
Bolivia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, and Venezuela) also played a role, and reinforced
34 Globalization for Development
The rise in oil prices has also an impact on other commodity markets. In some cases – for
instance, natural fibres, rubber, and sugar – the price increases resulted partly from the substitution
effects engendered by the jump in international oil prices. Rising hydrocarbon prices made some
synthetic materials less competitive. This strengthened the position of natural materials such as cotton
and rubber, resulting in an increase both in demand and prices. In the case of sugar, higher oil prices
have led to an increased demand for ethanol (made from sugar cane) and, consequently, to higher
international sugar prices.
4.2. Looming challenges for commodities
The recent increases in commodity prices notwithstanding, these have not been enough (in
some cases) to offset the consequences of severe price declines suffered in the past. For instance, in
the case of coffee, the rise in international prices has not been sufficient to make up for the fall in
prices following the 1997 crisis. Expressed in current US dollar terms, non-fuel commodity prices are
still lower than what they were in the early 1980s. In real terms, by the end of 2005, commodity prices
were about 30 per cent lower than the average for the period 1975-1985.
The prospects for individual commodity markets vary. For instance, the prices of rubber and
(to some extent) cotton are influenced by developments in the oil market owing to substitution effects
between natural and synthetic products. However, the main reason for the increase in the price of
natural rubber lies in the rapidly growing demand for rubber products – particularly tires, and mainly
highly quality tires of natural rubber used in high growth areas such as heavy trucks and aircraft.
Meteorological conditions and trade policies have influenced supply conditions for other cash crops.
Global economic conditions also affect different markets in different ways from the demand side. For
instance, the rapid pace of industrialization and income growth in China (and elsewhere in Asia) has
had a much stronger impact on the prices of industrial raw materials (particularly metals) as compared
to food prices. This difference is likely to persist in the short-to-medium term. However, food imports
by China are likely to increase in the longer term, raising the likelihood of future price increases for
The international market for a wide range of commodities tend to be characterized by
alternating short periods (a few years) of higher prices – like the current period since 2002 – and
longer periods of lower prices, with high volatility within these cycles. Commodities fall into three
categories: petroleum and other energy resources, minerals and metals, and agricultural commodities
(which can be further sub-divided into foodstuff and agricultural raw materials). Aside from petroleum
– in itself a special case – a distinction should be made between minerals and metals (some of which
have enjoyed sharp price increases in recent years, especially since 2002) on the one hand, and
agricultural commodities (especially tropical products) on the other. With increasing globalization,
countries dependent on the export of these different categories of commodities experience the impact
of the commodity problematic in different degrees, thus requiring responses tailored to their specific
circumstances in order to maximize development gains from them.
4.3. Commodity, poverty reduction and development
A majority of developing countries are dependent on the commodity sector as their largest
source of revenue and employment, and a major source of external finance (foreign exchange) for
development. Some 83 developing and least-developed countries derive more than 30 per cent of their
export earnings from the export of primary commodities. A single commodity accounts for more than
40 per cent of export earnings for 42 of these countries: 15 rely on agricultural, fishery, and forestry
products; 9 on mineral and metals; and 18 on petroleum. While price trends and behaviour are of
major importance to all categories of commodity producing countries, the situation of low-income
countries dependent on the export of traditional agricultural commodities provides a unique challenge
for reducing poverty and assuring development gains from international trade.
Chapter IV 35
Since the early 1980s, the prices of those commodities on which many LDCs and other more
vulnerable developing countries are the most dependent (mainly agro-commodities) have shown a
long-term declining trend, both in nominal and real terms. Besides the problem of prices, the
marketing and processing of these commodities (i.e. value addition) is largely skewed against the
developing countries that produce them. Also, despite the current respite in the downward trajectory of
most commodity prices, low-income commodity-dependent developing countries continue to face
difficulties in retaining international market shares. Thus, it is vital that issues relating to commodities
be urgently and adequately addressed at the international level.
Both sets of problems (commodity prices and value addition) are related to the workings of the
international trading system. Persistent supply/demand imbalances on world commodity markets have
been mainly due to (in varying degrees across commodities) trade-distorting domestic support and
export subsidies in certain industrialized countries. These not only displace the exporters of
developing countries on world markets but also reduce world prices (e.g. cotton). They also pressure
low-income commodity-producing countries to increase export volumes even in the face of declining
world prices so as to expand (or maintain) the level of foreign exchange earnings, and thereby sustain
debt servicing and import capacity.
Typically, low-income commodity-dependent developing countries rely on one – or a few –
export commodities. With their populations dependent on these commodities for their livelihood, these
countries are highly vulnerable to trade shocks, and face an unpredictable existence at both the micro
and macro levels. For example, declining and volatile commodity prices adversely affect the incomes
of farmers, agricultural wages, rural employment, the prospects for rural development, and poverty
reduction immediately. Price volatility creates uncertainty on investment returns, and reduces both the
willingness and capacity of farmers and entrepreneurs to invest. As a consequence, commodity
producers in these developing countries are at a disadvantage when attempting to adapt to increasingly
harsh international competition and changes in the international market place. At the same time, in the
mining sector (oil and gas, metals and minerals), the predicament of small miners – of which there are
over 30 million in developing countries – needs to be addressed.
At the macro level, declining and volatile commodity prices often have a direct and negative
impact on macroeconomic stability, fiscal balance, and balance of payment. A collapse in commodity
prices usually has an immediate adverse economic multiplier effect. As farmers and workers have less
to spend, local businesses contract or shut down. The Government also faces a reduction in revenues
and taxes. These induce or aggravate fiscal deficits which require correction by a reduction in
spending. A fall in Government spending leads to more job losses. It also results in the reduced ability
of the Government to provide basic services such as health and education and to invest in
infrastructure such as roads, ports, water supply and electricity. Reduced foreign exchange earnings
put further pressure on foreign exchange reserves, limiting import capacity, reducing external
creditworthiness, and making debt servicing less sustainable. Hence, the importance of reducing and
managing the volatility of commodity prices to arrest this negative spiral and turn it into a positive one.
4.4. Fostering an enabling environment: Commodity-based development strategy
Over the medium to long term, the prospects for continued growth in world demand for most
commodities appear good. Commodity prices can be expected to remain relatively high. The main
underlying reasons are the expected rapid economic growth and import demand of developing
countries, particularly in Asia, juxtaposed against weak commodity supply capacities, and the
increased diversion of the supply of some commodities (e.g. sugar and maize) to the production of
biofuels. However, it is unlikely that the growing imports of primary commodities into Asia alone will
lead to a reversal of the long-term decline in real commodity prices.
Nonetheless, the prospect of better prices for a considerable period of time – maybe as much
as ten years – may mean that commodity-dependent developing countries will potentially generate
36 Globalization for Development
sufficient finances to invest in their development and poverty reduction. However, any success in
planning their development based on commodity production and trade will depend both upon the
existence of an enabling international environment and the ability to build capacity, as well as
undertake (alone or jointly) necessary institutional changes.
Governments of developing countries experiencing windfall revenues from commodity price
booms need to deal first with the problem of translating higher prices into higher revenues, investment
into local infrastructure, jobs and poverty reduction through appropriate revenue sharing, and taxation-
related policy and agreement vis-à-vis domestic and foreign investors. They also have to pursue their
core policies of targeting local infrastructure and productive capacity, diversification and value
addition, job creating industries and poverty reduction schemes.
Harnessing the present boom in commodity prices from changing market conditions for the
purposes of development is an urgent matter for both developing countries as well as the international
community. The challenges include: (i) the adaptation – in real terms – of international trade rules
within which most international commodity trade takes place between countries that have historically
been at the periphery of world trade, and have not been part of the rule-making process; (ii) the
mobilization of financial resources to support this trade, including from financial institutions which are
traditionally focused on financing trade within the North; and (iii) the suitability of legal regimes
governing investment vis-à-vis the new flows of investment capital between developing countries.
All these challenges call for enhancing coherence at all levels in order to ensure that
institutional change facilitates and supports the shift in commodity trade patterns, and eventually
makes for sustainable economic development and poverty reduction. The degree of success with
which the world can meet these challenges depends crucially on the progress made in enhancing the
enabling environment at all levels so as to strengthen productive capacity, trade and investment. Only
then will commodity-dependent developing countries be able to exploit the window of opportunity
provided by the new market environment.
To support a viable commodity-based development strategy, there is a need to address several
issues at the international level. Firstly, there is the need to address some of the causes and mitigate the
adverse consequences of long periods of commodity price declines and sharp price fluctuations – the
key causes of oversupply and market failure. Secondly, there is the need to facilitate and ensure an
equitable distribution of the gains from trade in commodities (including the rents from natural resource
products), encourage value addition and competitiveness within commodity value chains, and improve
market access for commodity-based products. Thirdly, there is need to improve: (i) the access of
commodity-dependent countries to international finance for the purposes of development and to
commodity exchanges;25 (ii) investment in the upgrading of traditional commodity sectors; and (iii)
investment in the diversification of traditional commodities into non-traditional ones (and into local
livelihood products). And fourthly, there is a need to address the proliferation of new generations of
product presentations, technical processes, and sanitary and phytosanitary standards (including private
standards) for market access (notably for food products), especially in OECD markets.26
All these elements – which are part of a holistic strategy for development from a commodity
base – require substantial investment in infrastructure and supply-side capacity-building. In this
context, the Aid for Trade initiative – along with UNCTAD’s involvement – could play a critical role
in supporting improvements in the competitiveness of traditional commodity sectors, the vertical and
For details on commodity exchanges see UNCTAD’, The development role of commodity exchanges
For an analysis of selected areas of commodity policy that pose challenges for the international community,
and where UNCTAD is in a position to make a contribution to the policy debate and to implementation, such as
(i) the income effects of commodity market instability, (ii) standards and market requirements for commodities,
and (iii) energy, see UNCTAD, Commodities and development (TD/B/COM.1/82).
Chapter IV 37
horizontal diversification in commodity-dependent countries, and the mitigation of the short-term
impact of commodity ‘shocks’ at the national level. The latter could include the financing of safety net
programmes for small and resource-poor producers seriously affected by commodity ‘shocks’.
A holistic approach would require reinventing and putting into place institutions that can more
effectively carry out some of the useful functions that previous marketing boards had performed. The
problems of institutional vacuums, missing markets and access to financing are all too evident in most
commodity-dependent countries, particularly in Africa and other LDCs. Commodity financing should
be a priority for small producers marginalized by globalization, and for the mechanization and up
scaling of agricultural production and trade. Small producers need assistance in order to reinforce and
upgrade their productive capacity, competitiveness and be integrated into international supply chains.
They also need other inputs such as better infrastructure, timely information, as well as financial and
other support necessary to gain access to national, regional, and international markets. They need help
to organize themselves and to bargain better with global supply and distribution networks.27
A roadmap for a comprehensive approach to commodities was provided by the outcome of the
first UNCTAD XII pre-event: the Brasilia Conference on the Global Initiative on Commodities, which
was jointly organized by the ACP secretariat, Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), UNDP and
UNCTAD, and hosted by the Government of Brazil (Brasilia, 7-11 May 2007) (see Box 8).
Box 8. The Global Initiative on Commodities
The outcome document of the Conference identifies areas specific to commodity production and trade where
the international community, of which UNCTAD forms part, has a role to play in solidarity with commodity-
dependent developing countries. Such areas include (i) dealing with the negative effects of the instability of
commodity prices and export earnings; (ii) improving the capacity of commodity producers and processors to
meet standards; (iii) exploiting opportunities offered by new and dynamic sectors; (iv) improving access to
market information for commodity producers; (v) strengthening the capacity of the financial institutions of
developing countries to provide credit to small producers; (vi) supporting the establishment of effectively
functioning commodity exchanges in developing countries; (vii) encouraging the development of South-South
trade financial institutions and mechanisms; and (viii) designing and setting up a mechanism to deal with the
loss of revenues faced by African cotton producers as a result of the decline in cotton prices. Also, the
International Task Force on Commodities (launched at UNCTAD XI) should be made operational and be given
sufficient resources. Financial assistance needs to be provided to commodity-dependent developing countries in
order to build and upgrade physical infrastructure such as roads, ports, storage facilities and irrigation, and to
eliminate supply bottlenecks. The Aid for Trade initiative should: a) assess the needs of commodity-dependent
developing countries, and support their diversification efforts, including by supporting the introduction of
appropriate technology; b) set up effective SPS and TBT related infrastructure for meeting standards and other
market requirements, and achieving sustainable production and processing systems; c) meet the adjustment
costs of trade reform and preference erosion as well as for capacity development and trade related technical
assistance. MDG consistent debt sustainability frameworks for commodity-dependent countries require that
export earnings shortfalls be taken into account when designing debt relief measures.
The outcome also identifies a range of actions to be taken by the Governments of commodity-dependent
developing countries. These actions, which could in many cases be made more productive through the support
by UNCTAD, include i) taking steps to improve infrastructure; ii) providing an enabling environment,
including access to land and support services; iii) strengthening producers' associations, and taking other
actions to make possible the entry of producers into the world supply chain on equitable terms; iv) creating
effectively functioning domestic and regional commodities markets; v) creating regulatory environments
enabling national stakeholders to use modern finance and risk management instruments; vi) minimizing the
negative effects of large revenue inflows from mineral exports on domestic inflation and relative prices; vii)
ensuring a balance between attracting FDI in natural resource exploitation and maximizing revenues through
For a discussion of the problem of exclusion from global markets and policy options and models for
integrating small agricultural producers in supply chains in a sustainable manner, see for example UNCTAD’s
report on Enabling small commodity producers and processors in developing countries to reach global market
38 Globalization for Development
taxation and regulatory policies; and viii) strengthening the linkages between the mineral sector and the
local/regional economy with a view to fostering diversification.
In addition, civil society initiatives to convert the efforts of the Global Initiative on Commodities into a popular
campaign should be encouraged, especially those aimed at improving the sustainability of commodity trade and
improving governance in commodity value chains. International commodity bodies should be strengthened in
their role of providing expertise and assistance to specific commodity sectors in commodity-dependent
developing countries. Recognizing the important role played by global enterprises in all aspects of commodity
production and trade, these enterprises need to increase their contribution to sustainable development, good
working conditions, remunerative employment and poverty reduction.
SERVICES – THE NEW TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT FRONTIER?
5.1. The increasing importance of the services economy
Services contribute to economic growth and development through the creation of a
competitive economy, by providing new jobs, by enhancing access to essential services, and by
stimulating trade. Service sectors such as business and finance, telecommunications, construction,
environment, distribution, healthcare, education, and cultural services provide the backbone of an
integrated and effective economy, nationally, regionally and globally. An improved services economy
contributes to improved performance in merchandise trade since the increased sophistication and
availability of producer services enhances international competitiveness in the export of primary and
manufactured goods. The informal services sector is also an important aspect of the services economy
in developing countries.
With globalization, the potential for developing countries to expand and diversify their
economies through the increased development and trade in services is immense. Moreover, increased
services trade can generate significant development gains – i.e. far more than can be realized through
the narrow focus on increasing the exports of primary commodities and manufactures alone. Thus,
services hold a huge potential as en engine for realizing development gains in developing countries.
Globally, the services economy continues to expand, with its contribution to GDP,
employment and trade increasing significantly, including in many developing countries. Between 1980
and 2006, the share of services in GDP has grown from 60 to 73 per cent in developed countries, and
from 41 to 51 per cent in developing countries.28 Services today account for over 70 per cent of
employment in developed countries, and around 35 per cent in developing countries. World trade in
services has nearly tripled to reach US$2.4 trillion, while the FDI inward stock has quadrupled to
nearly $10 trillion in the wake of the globalized production of goods and services. Particularly
significant sectors and modes for services exports include the temporary movement of natural persons
supplying services (Mode 4 of GATS) and outsourcing (Mode 1), but also in Mode 3 (commercial
presence), and sectors such as health, tourism, construction and business services. Regarding tourism,
the “Trade and development implications of tourism services for developing countries” was discussed
at an UNCTAD XII pre-event from 19–20 November 2007 in Geneva. The event identified best
practices that developing countries are increasingly pursuing in promoting tourism with the aim of
ensuring that benefits from the sector translate into long-term economic, social and environmental
The overall performance of the trade in services in developing countries has been exceptional.
Since 1990, the export of services from developing countries has grown at an average annual rate of 8
per cent, compared to 6 per cent from developed countries. Thus, the share of developing countries in
world export of services has climbed from 19 to 24 per cent. Travel (including tourism) and transport
continue to represent the major proportion of the services exports of developing countries while
business services (including ICT, financial and insurance services) now account for about one-third of
all services.30 At present, services trade of developing countries is dominated by a small number
amongst them. Developing countries in Asia account for 75 per cent of the services trade of all
developing countries. While Africa/Latin America and the Caribbean accounted for 10 and 15 per
Unless otherwise noted, the services data presented here is from the UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2007
which available online at: www.unctad.org/statistics.
See “Pre-conference event: Meeting on trade and development implications of tourism services for developing
countries – Summary of discussions” (TD/427).
See also UNCTAD, Trade and Development Aspects of Insurance Services and Regulatory Frameworks
(UNCTAD/DITC/TNCD/2005/17), and UNCTAD, Trade and Development Aspects of Insurance Services
and Regulatory Frameworks (UNCTAD/DITC/TNCD/2007/4).
40 Globalization for Development
cent, respectively. Over half of developing country services exports originate in only 6 countries, and
the top 15 developing country services exporters account for 80 per cent of all developing country
services exports. An increasing number of countries are successful in exporting services such as
tourism, transport, construction, audiovisual, computer and information services, business and
professional services, particularly through Modes 1 and Mode 4. South-South trade is also expanding,
within which regional trade agreements play an important role (see Box 9).
Box 9. Services in RTAs
Services trade and development in RTAs can potentially generate tangible development gains for countries that
are members of the RTAs and for the region(s) in question. This is notably due to the fact that RTAs in services
are not solely based on economic objectives but include strategic objectives (e.g. development, stability,
security, geopolitics, attracting FDI). Many of these RTAs are universal in scope and embrace a progressive
approach towards liberalization even though they may exclude sensitive sectors. Such RTAs are both South-
South and North-South in character. South-South RTAs are enabling member countries to test services
liberalization; achieve economies of scale; pursue cooperative efforts between countries with similar
regulations (such as in common efforts to develop supply capacities); and develop initiatives to harness services
trade and resulting benefits. Some RTAs have adopted a framework for the liberalization of services (e.g.
ASEAN, Andean Group, MERCOSUR, and NAFTA), while others have committed to achieving substantial
liberalization and are developing or finalizing a services agreement (e.g. SADC and COMESA). With regard to
the kind of commitments entered into, several RTAs go beyond GATS commitments: some go further than the
offers submitted in GATS negotiations; in others the depth of commitments across sectors is comparable with
(or goes beyond) commitments envisaged in plurilateral requests. However, it is also notable that RTAs
preserve limitations and sensitivities, e.g. in respect of audio-visual services in the EC; maritime and certain
professional services in the United States; and cross-border trade in financial services in many countries.31
North-South RTAs in services may lead to deeper liberalization, which can be particularly challenging for
developing countries where regulatory frameworks have yet to be developed (especially when the negative list
approach to liberalization is used). It is important for countries to recognize that development-enhancing
liberalization in services requires the recognition of the role of regulation, including its sectoral specificities.
UNCTAD is assisting developing countries in their regional integration efforts, including negotiating and
designing agreements and developing adequate regulatory frameworks. Regional RTAs (particularly North-
South) could promote development by enhancing collaboration on services, with a particular focus on
facilitating regulation, institution building, and developing the competitive services sectors in developing
countries. Cooperative mechanisms are required to achieve this. These can include mutual recognition
agreements, or policies related to competition, social security, double taxation, or the development of regional
In the context of labour mobility, RTAs can provide a promising avenue for the temporary movement of
service-related persons and workers at all skill levels. The treatment of labour mobility under RTAs varies
across regions. It ranges from full labour mobility (EU, EFTA, COMESA and ANZCERTA), to Agreements
providing market access for certain groups such as university graduates, professionals, highly skilled persons,
or workers from selected occupations (CARICOM, NAFTA, Europe Agreements, Canada-Chile, US-
Singapore, Japan-Singapore), to Agreements which use the GATS model with some additional elements such
as common regulations for work and labour conditions (AFTA, MERCOSUR, Euro-Med Association
agreements, New Zealand-Singapore, EU-Mexico, US-Jordan). Other Agreements (APEC, SAARC) have
provided no market access but have facilitated entry (e.g. facilitated travel, business travel, and visa waivers for
certain categories of persons. Finally, there have been agreements that contain no effective provision for labour
mobility or services. Many RTAs are yet to achieve their full potential through increased Mode 4 commitments
facilitating labour mobility. Most RTAs still focus on facilitating the movement of higher-skilled workers, and
do not go very much beyond the GATS Mode 4 commitments or unilateral programmes to attract skilled
workers. Moreover, most RTAs stipulate that the provisions covering labour mobility do not override the
general migration laws of any country and its right to use residence requirements and related permits and visas.
UNCTAD, Note on Trade in Services and Development Implications (TD/B/COM.1/85).
Chapter V 41
5.2. FDI inflows and off-shoring services
FDI inflows to developing countries are increasingly targeting the services sector. The
services sector attracted only 32 per cent of FDI inflows to developing countries in 1990 compared to
50 per cent in 2005. Accumulated FDI inward stocks in their services sector have also climbed during
this period by some 800 per cent from US$150 billion to US$1.3 trillion. FDI inward stock in the
services sector of developing countries is now nearly twice the value of FDI inward stock in their
manufacturing sector and accounts for 22 per cent of total world FDI inward stock in the services
sector. 32 Developing countries themselves have become a major source of these investments. Total
FDI outflows from developing countries to the world’s services sector rose from only US$2 billion in
1990 to nearly US$38 billion in 2005 and most of these outflows were destined for other developing
Off-shored services are a small component of the world outsourcing market for a wide range
of services, including IT and IT-enabled business services, as well as pharmaceutical and R&D
services. Current estimates indicate that the magnitude of the global off-shoring market exceeds
US$50 billion. With developing countries capturing a sizable and growing share of the market, the
potential of their benefiting from the trend of off-shoring services appears to be large. The recent
growth in the global market for off-shoring services increasingly offers new export opportunities to
developing countries, as well as significant cost-savings benefits to countries importing these services.
Key benefits for exporting countries include increased export earnings, job creation, higher wages, and
the upgrading of skills. FDI in off-shoring can create further positive spillovers in terms of raising the
competitiveness of human resources and improving the ICT infrastructure.
Development gains from increased services trade include enhanced inward FDI flows and the
transfer of technologies to the services sectors of developing countries, including producer services.
Improving the availability, capacity and competitiveness of domestic producer services is a critical
requirement for enhancing their export performance in primary and manufactured goods. At the same
time, improved market opening commitments by trading partners (particularly developed countries) in
the trade in cross-border services (GATS Mode 1), as well as in the movement of natural persons
supplying services (GATS Mode 4) would unlock new opportunities for developing country services
exports in areas where many have an established competitive advantage, including in IT-enabled
services, business, construction and health-care services.
However, the potential of the development of the services sector and trade in services is yet to
be fully realized by many developing countries especially in sub-Saharan Africa and in small and
vulnerable economies including small island developing States and LDCs. LDCs, for instance,
continue to be marginalized from the international flows of services, with their share in world service
exports being only about 0.5 per cent. Also, most services in the informal sector are not tradable, thus
reducing their propensity to benefit from trade-led globalization. Positively integrating these countries
into the services economy and trade, and assuring that they derive development gains, remains a major
challenge for development.
5.3. Fostering an enabling environment: Meaningful and pro-development
commitments in services liberalization and building competitive services
The WTO Doha Round of negotiations regarding services are a major forum for creating an
enabling and progressive liberalization of trade in services as well as delivering global governance
objectives through the formulation of possible disciplines, including in the area of domestic regulation.
UNCTAD, 2004, World Investment Report.
UNCTAD, 2007, World Investment Report.
42 Globalization for Development
The negotiation on services offers an important avenue to liberalizing trade in services in a
development-friendly manner and from the perspective of developing countries. Such liberalization
can create new opportunities for the development and trade in the services sector to be seized by
developing countries. Quality integration in the services economy necessitates securing favourable
terms and conditions for the participation of developing countries in world trade in general, and in the
multilateral trading system in particular.
Despite the continuing growth of the services sector, and the fact that services negotiations
were already mandated as the built-in agenda of negotiations in the GATS, current negotiating
dynamics do not offer services the same prominence as NAMA and agriculture. In general, developing
countries have been asked to make binding commitments on services at the actual level of openness or
beyond. This raises important questions about the flexibility available to developing countries in
ensuring the appropriate pacing and sequencing of liberalization, and about the development
flexibilities and the positive-list approach of the GATS. For developing countries, any movement in
services depends upon pro-development aspects in – and in balance with – other areas of negotiations,
notably agriculture and NAMA.
A pro-development solution in services negotiations would require 'meaningful' commitments
in the sectors and modes of export interest to developing countries. However, clear progress on market
access issues is still outstanding. Currently, there are 70 offers and 30 revised offers. However, most
of them are not effectively meeting the Mode 4-related market access expectations of developing and
least developed countries. Also, the effective operationalization of the modalities for the special
treatment for LDCs remains outstanding. Combining GATS commitments with flexibility to review –
and roll back – commitments in the light of development impacts may offer a safety-valve, making it
easier for Members to offer commitments in the first place. The use of an emergency safeguard
mechanism could also be of value.
In the domestic regulation area of GATS negotiations, the main development challenge lies in
striking a balance between preserving the right to regulate and achieving clear and specific
international disciplines to underpin any market access commitments, including for Mode 4. Despite
much efforts, many important issues remain outstanding, with Members disagreeing on the overall
direction and level of ambition any future disciplines should achieve. A pro-development approach
would include a strengthened section on development, combined with an effective development angle
for each and every discipline, rule and obligation. Members may also wish to borrow from the
approach used in the Trade Facilitation negotiations, where the extent and the timing of entering into
commitments shall be related to the implementation capacities of developing and least developed
country Members, and where least developed country Members will only be required to undertake
commitments consistent with their individual development, financial and trade needs and their
administrative and institutional capabilities.
In other areas of rule-making, progress remains notably absent. Regarding the development of
disciplines regarding the trade distorting effects of subsidies, the respective mandate in the GATS
requires that negotiations shall recognize the role of subsidies in relation to the development
programmes of developing countries. Hence any disciplines would require equilibrium between
granting developing countries the respective flexibility, and the means to address the potentially
restrictive effects of the trade distorting subsidies of developed countries on their exports. Finally, an
emergency safeguard mechanism for services remains an important development issue.
The impact of Modes 4 and 1 on development should not be underestimated. Even a relatively
modest but meaningful liberalization in Mode 4 could bring welfare benefits that would strengthen the
development component of the Doha round.34 In fact, the gains from Mode 4 alone are estimated to
See UNCTAD Note on Increasing the Participation of Developing Countries Through Liberalization of
Market Access in GATS Mode 4 for Movement of Natural Persons Supplying Services (TD/B/COM.1/EM.22/2).
Chapter V 43
outweigh the combined expected gains from the liberalization of agriculture and NAMA. For example,
it has been estimated that an increase in developed countries’ quotas on the inward movements of both
skilled and unskilled temporary workers equivalent to 3 per cent of their workforces would generate
an estimated increase in world welfare of over $US150 billion annually,35 as compared to projected
gains in agriculture of about $50 billion and in manufactures of about $80 billion.36 In Mode 1,
developing countries can gain not only from business process outsourcing but also by capturing export
opportunities in IT-enabled services, and by moving up the value chain to knowledge process
outsourcing (KPO). The KPO market is projected to reach US$17 billion by 2010.37
However, the realization of gains by developing countries in both Modes 1 and 4 are currently
hampered by growing protectionist sentiments in the markets of destination. Thus, there is need for
coherence in the policy and commitments made at the international level vis-à-vis practice at the
national level. There is also the need for coherence between national/federal/regional legislation and
policies in destination markets for developing country exports. This will ensure that the commitments
made are adhered to, that restrictions are rolled back, and access liberalized even further.
Many developing countries are apprehensive of government procurement in the services sector
(especially in the GATS context). However, it has been indicated as an area that could provide
development and export opportunities for some developing countries if undertaken on a
unilateral/bilateral basis, and with a development outcome in mind.
International solidarity – particularly through the provision of finance but also in terms of
technological support and investment – is important not just in order to build competitiveness in the
services sector but also to move towards the development of pro-poor services, including through the
provision of universal access to essential services.38 International solidarity initiatives to create an
enabling environment in the services sector can be of two kinds. The first is in the context of
infrastructure building, both physical and social. This is an essential complement to services
liberalization. Governments have a key role to play in this context. While private sector participation
and financing in infrastructure building is important, it is clear that the private sector alone cannot
provide for necessary infrastructural needs that tend to be capital intensive. Thus, there is a need to
also explore the use of private-public partnership as and the essential role that multilateral financial
institutions (MFIs) and donor finance can play in terms of international public funding.
The second initiative is the use of the ‘Aid for Trade’ (AfT) initiative, particularly for LDCs,
as a tool to build competitiveness in the services sector, thereby facilitating productivity in the whole
economy. The AfT initiative could be used for building national services strategies, including
strategies for development, sectoral assessment, and regulatory frameworks. The use of AfT would
help beneficiaries identify and build on the services sectors of export potential (e.g. the tourism sector
for small and vulnerable economies), move up the services value chain, and diversify both within the
services sector and across other sectors, including manufacturing and agriculture.
The enormous potential contribution of the services economy for – and its actual contribution
to – trade and development means that any inadequacy in the services supply capacities and
L Alan Winters, The Economic Implications of Liberalising Mode 4 Trade (8 April 2002).
Dee and Hanslow (2000): Multilateral liberalisation of services trade, Productivity Commission Staff Research
Paper, Ausinfo, Canberra.
The KPO market includes services as complex and varied as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, data search,
integration and management services, financial services, research and analytics, technology research, computer-
aided simulation and engineering design, and professional services (e.g. business research and legal services).
The estimated value of the KPO market was provided in RNCOS, “KPO - The New Outsourcing Avenue for
Indian BPO Market” (1 October 2005).
See UNCTAD Note on Universal Access to Services (TD/B/COM.1/EM.30/2).
44 Globalization for Development
competitiveness of developing countries will result in their marginalization from the modern economy
and global trade. The latter is a problematic facing most developing countries, especially LDCs.
Particularly noteworthy is the challenge of exploiting the potential of the expanding service economy
and trade in services i.e., moving from the informal to the formal, and from low to high value-added
sectors; overcoming over-reliance on one particular sector (e.g. tourism); and diversifying into other
sectors that are less vulnerable to external shocks. However, these all still remain as challenges since
development gains are not automatic. Reaping such gains requires sound and coherent national
developmental policies and strategies, regulations and institutions, the fostering of enabling conditions,
and minimizing detrimental effects. Appropriate content, the pacing and sequencing of reform and
liberalization, as well as coherence with other economic sectors is important.
While a few developing countries have set inspiring examples of development and trade in the
services sector, other countries (particularly LDCs) are being increasingly marginalized. In this regard,
the ‘development benchmarking’ of polices governing the services sector is important. Such
benchmarking should assess whether or not these policies can deliver increased capacity, up-scaling,
modernization, technology transfer, job creation and social benefits.
The first challenge facing developing countries is to design and implement comprehensive
policy frameworks for the services sector. These frameworks can include carefully negotiated market
access commitments that can ensure dynamic gains from a greater opening of their services markets,
and the effective use of the private sector including public-private partnerships. These contribute to the
creation of a competitive services sector, including in infrastructural services and in the building up of
SMEs in the services sector. The second challenge is to build effective national and regional
regulatory frameworks and institutions for their services economy. In the context of both policy and
regulatory frameworks, the development of a National Services Strategy is essential (see Box 10).
Box 10. National Services Strategy
A National Services Strategy (focusing on the services sector within the national environment and economy) is
a vital tool for development. Such a National Services Strategy could greatly facilitate the creation of an
enabling environment for the services sector; ensure coherence between ministries and in policymaking
between the state and federal levels; integrate global level services issues such as services agreements at the
national level; and contribute to better governance in the services sector, both vertically and horizontally. A
National Services Strategy could include the setting up of effective regulatory and supervisory frameworks and
institutions (especially in sectors such as telecommunications, financial services, energy services, and water
services); ensuring coherence of national and global processes on promoting national development goals;
encouraging entrepreneurship; and allocating optimal resources and finance for achieving services development
Comprehensive national assessments and policy reviews of services and trade in services have
a central role to play in assisting developing countries and the international community in meeting the
challenge of integrating developing countries into the services economy. Such assessments enable
countries to appropriately pace and sequence policy reforms affecting the services sectors. Such policy
reviews can facilitate intergovernmental deliberations and consensus-building on best practices,
lessons learnt, as well as policy options for services development. Follow-up capacity-building support
in countries and regional groupings are also important in developing and implementing services
agreements, putting in place regulatory regimes, and developing competitive services supply
capacities. At the same time, the human and social development implications of the service economy
and regulations have to be addressed in terms of universal access to essential services such as
education, energy, health, water, and telecommunications services. The international community can
greatly help in this regard.
UNLEASHING THE DEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL OF LABOUR MOBILITY39
6.1. The reality of labour mobility and development gains
In 2005 about 200 million people were living outside the country of their birth as compared to
175 million in 2000.40 Regional demographic projections in major developed and emerging markets
indicate a reduction of the total labour force by 29 million by 2025, and by 244 million by 2050.41 This
trend is in contrast to the projections for the South, where the labour force is seen to increase by about
784 million by 2025, and by 1.55 billion by 2050.
The flow of temporary migrants to developed countries has increased recently. This is partly
in response to policy changes in some of these countries, which have eased the requirements for
admission for certain occupations. For instance, the United Kingdom has increased its work permit
approvals from 85,600 in 2000 to 115,700 in 2001, including in education (an increase of 100 per
cent), health care (over 40 per cent) and computer technology (roughly 25 per cent). In Japan, the
figures increased by 10 per cent for the period 2000-2001. Germany’s ‘green card’ programme,
instituted in August 2000, has tripled the employment of foreigners in the health care sector and has
granted more than 13,000 green cards to foreign computer engineers. The European Union employs
almost 500,000 seasonal agricultural workers from countries outside the EU.
With demographic and economic imbalances between the North and the South persisting,
migration and labour mobility is expected to rise continuously, aided also by a variety of economic
(trade and investment), political/security, and social/cultural push-and-pull factors. Labour mobility is
becoming a hallmark of the latest wave of globalization. The migration of labour covers the whole
gamut of movements of people, regardless of purpose and duration of stay – temporary or permanent.
There are also increasing opportunities for labour integration and mobility in the context of trade and
investment-led globalization as never before due to several factors (see Box 11). These push-and-pull
factors, combined with global production, distribution chains, and technological developments have
created a global pool of labour which is accessible to businesses and consumers on a cost-quality
competitive basis, with beneficial trade and development results for all. The benefits and costs of
migration apply to both sending and receiving countries. The challenge is to ensure that there is more
'gain' than 'drain' in the process of migration. There is scope for win-win gains for both developed and
developing countries from liberalizing the movement of people.
Box 11. New opportunities for labour mobility
Enhanced opportunities for labour integration and mobility are generated by the following factors:
• the growing complementarities between developed and developing countries with respect to demographics
and the labour force (i.e. an ageing population in developed countries vis-à-vis a young one in developing
• skills shortages in developed countries vis-à-vis surpluses in developing countries at all skill levels in key
• innovations in transport, telecommunications and ICT technology which allows easy access to cost-quality
competitive labour anywhere in the world;
• the growth of new labour-intensive sectors such as nursing, home and health care services; and
• productivity and wage differentials between developed and developing countries.
This section draws heavily from Lakshmi Puri, "Economic Benefits and Costs of Labour Integration and
Implications for Growth and Development," paper prepared for the International Development Conference,
Harvard University, 21 April 2007.
Global Commission on International Migration (2005). Migration in an Interconnected World: New Directions
for Action: Report of the Global Commission on International Migration, October.
Holzmann, R. (2005). "Demographic Alternatives for Aging Industrial Countries: Increased Total Fertility
Rate, Labor Force Participation, or Immigration," Institute for the Study of Labour (IZA), Discussion Paper No.
46 Globalization for Development
Labour movements could be realized through unilateral, bilateral and multilateral schemes,
most notably under Mode 4 of the GATS in the WTO. However, in overall terms, current
liberalization in market access remains relatively limited. This is due to political and security pressures
as well as perceived negative wage and employment effects. That there has been a growth in the
demand for labour from developing countries at all skill levels is generally acknowledged. However,
current international trade and economic governance structures and agreements do not provide
favourable conditions for meeting this demand, and this situation is not resolved due to the lack of
progress made in Mode 4 liberalization in the WTO. Developed countries have tended to resort to
targeted recruitment and bilateral arrangements rather than multilateral accords to regulate liberalized
sectors. Most countries regulate foreign markets through unilateral regimes and schemes that are
unpredictable, and in which the developing countries have no say.
Even within the limited labour mobility visible today, there are neo-protectionist concerns
revolving around the ‘export of jobs’. Many factors underlie these concerns: the importation of goods
and services from low-wage countries at various skill levels; investment by OECD transnational
corporations in manufacturing and services in developing countries; new ways and areas of
outsourcing and off-shoring to developing countries (from low-skill services to high trend and high-
tech R&D, from manufacturing blue collar tasks to services); and wage depression and social security
erosion in the home countries, giving rise to concerns over ‘social dumping’.
There are several ironies and issues of coherence that hamper labour market integration and
the cross-border movement of labour from contributing fully to trade and development. These include
the fact that cost-quality competitive labour is one of the strongest endowments of most developing
countries. And yet, this comparative advantage is largely being left out of the ambit of trade
liberalization, both at the multilateral and regional levels. Market realities and actual labour flows on
the ground (i.e. in terms of supply meeting actual growing labour market demand) far outstrip formal
international agreements and frameworks for liberalization. Political populism against labour
integration in policy discourse nationally and internationally often minimizes the recognition of
considerable socio-economic, welfare, and efficiency gains – regardless of whether they are direct or
indirect, short-, medium- or long-term – for all the economies concerned.
Moreover, there is often a gap between corporate interests and labour interests when, in real
terms, economy-wide interests and benefits point to the coherence of these interests, including in net
job creation and savings, in the generation of new consumers and markets, and in the ensuing
additional purchasing power in both the sending and receiving countries. While labour integration is
an important component of goods, finance, entrepreneurship and information-related trade, the freer
movement of labour is continually being resisted. Thus, the impact of an inadequate understanding of
the costs and benefits of labour integration and globalization for all countries – both developed and
developing – may well mean that the most win-win and inclusive phase of globalization for
development through labour market integration has been forestalled for some time to come.
Significant global welfare gains are estimated from the liberalization of the temporary
movement of natural persons to provide services abroad. One estimate finds a global welfare gain of
US$150-200 billion from the relaxation of entry conditions for the temporary movement of workers or
service providers at all skill levels, with greater gains expected from the liberalization of the
movement of less-skilled workers.42 The estimated gains are greater than the total gains expected from
all other areas of negotiations under the WTO Doha Round. An earlier study found that the
elimination of global restrictions on labour mobility would bring worldwide efficiency gains ranging
from 15 to 67 per cent of world GDP. However, when only skilled labour is allowed to migrate,
See Winters, L. Alan, and others (2002). Negotiating the Liberalization of the Temporary Movement of
Natural Persons. Discussion Papers in Economics, No. 87. Brighton, UK: University of Sussex at Brighton. p.27.
Chapter VI 47
welfare gains are smaller (ranging from 3 to 11 per cent of world GDP) since skilled labour is only a
small proportion of the labour force in developing regions.43
Despite the existence of a real demand for foreign workers in developed and some developing
countries, barriers to entry and stay continue to exist. Barriers to service suppliers include quotas,
economic needs, and labour market tests, lack of recognition for diplomas and competencies acquired
outside of the destination country, language and residency or citizenship requirements, as well as
complex and expensive visa and permit acquisition procedures. Also, once allowed in, foreign workers
are prone to a host of challenges like abuse in employment contracts and conditions, including lower
wages, under employment, absence of social security protection, and vulnerability to exploitation.
6.2. Maximizing the gains from labour mobility
Labour exporting countries can benefit from several socio-economic benefits including: the
inflow of remittances and foreign exchange; the return of skilled workers increasing local human
capital stock, and transferring skills and links to foreign networks (brain gain and circulation); and
technology transfer, investments and venture capital contributed by citizens in the diaspora. However,
a brain drain occurs when highly skilled workers are recruited, thus reducing the quality of essential
services, especially in occupations such as health and education that are also much in demand at home.
Remittances from migrants form a substantial proportion of foreign exchange earnings for
sending countries, and are a stable source of finance for development. In 2001, the remittances sent
home to developing countries from workers living abroad were equal to 42 per cent of the total FDI
inflows to those countries, and double that of ODA flows. Recorded remittance flows have doubled
over the past five years, and stood at US$249 billion in 2005 - $180 billion of which is accounted for
by developing countries. These figures could be twice as much if unrecorded flows are captured. Of
the top thirty recipients of worker remittances, Remittances play a key role in the economies of some
countries. For instance, for about 20 developing countries and countries with economies in transition,
the share of remittances in the GDP range from 11 per cent (Kiribati) to as high as 31 per cent (Tonga).
This share is estimated to be about 13 per cent for the Philippines with its 80 million inhabitants,
Remittances provide direct income benefits to the recipients in source countries, thereby
helping them ease household consumption expenditures, and encouraging more household investments
in education, health, and entrepreneurship. World Bank household surveys indicate that remittances
have led to declines in the poverty headcount ratio in some countries, such as declines of 11
percentage points in Uganda, 6 in Bangladesh and 5 in Ghana.. With regard to their impact on poverty
reduction, a World Bank analysis based on household surveys indicates that remittances have been
associated with declines in poverty headcount ratio in some countries as follows: 11 percentage points
in Uganda, 6 in Bangladesh, and 5 in Ghana. Gender-specific data provide some examples suggesting
a significant increase in the temporary cross-border employment of women. 44 For example, in Sri
Lanka, 2002 figures reveal that 70 per cent of the 970,000 Sri Lankan overseas contract workers were
women, resulting in a positive impact on the economic and social empowerment of women.
As remittances have grown in recent years (and now constitute a significant portion of the
GDP of some low-income countries), efforts are being made to mobilize and channel these funds to
maximize their impact on the development of the sending countries in general, and for the well-being
of the migrants and their families in particular. For example, several countries (e.g. Brazil, India,
Mexico, Panama and Turkey) have introduced remittance-backed bonds to raise funds at lower interest
Ana Maria Iregui (1999). Efficiency Gains from the Elimination of Global Restrictions on Labour Mobility: An
Analysis Using a Multiregional CGE Model, JEL, December.
The World Bank, Global Economic Prospects, 2006.
48 Globalization for Development
rates on the international bond market. In India, the government floated specialized bonds for
development purposes, raising close to US$10 billion.45
Efforts could also be made to tap the skills of diaspora populations and the networks they have
established abroad. It has been documented that Chinese and Indian IT specialists have either invested
back in the countries of their origin, or have gone home to set up their own business ventures, with
some even setting up a commercial presence in other countries. Other government initiatives targeted
at assisting the reintegration of returning migrant workers so as to stimulate investment include the
provision of facilities for importing capital goods and raw materials, business counselling and training,
access to loans, and encouraging entrepreneurship for development. 46
On the cost side of migration, there are several actions that sending governments could
consider for mitigating the negative effects of the brain drain. These include: compulsory public
service for critical occupations such in health care and education; paying back for their training and
the (at least partial) costs of their education (especially in cases where the mandatory domestic
employment requirement is not completed); devising some form of rotation schemes to ensure the
availability of an ample supply of qualified nurses domestically (which also assures them that their
chance to work abroad is just a matter of time); encouraging return migration by acknowledging their
training abroad and giving them some visiting scholar positions (or other honorary positions);
encouraging them to serve as trainers; requiring those who leave to post a bond to ensure their return
to the country; adopting a human resource programme which would encourage the retention of staff
through salary increases and other incentives, and an expansion of domestic training capacity.
Governments could pursue bilateral country-to-country or institution-to-institution initiatives
in order to forge and maintain bilateral cooperation arrangements. Some of these could include:
facilitating the movement of workers (e.g. the recruitment agreement between the Philippines and the
United Kingdom); requiring some compensation from host countries for every foreign worker taken in;
exploring the possibility of regularly inviting some of their own experts, practitioners and specialists
to conduct training on advances in the relevant field on a short-term basis as compensation for the loss
of skilled workers; and arranging special visa schemes which will ensure that the employment and stay
of foreign workers remains temporary in the host country, thus ensuring their return migration.
6.3. Fostering an enabling environment: Leveraging human resources in trade
A key challenge in the formulation of policies is to ensure that there is 'gain' rather than 'drain'
from migration. Measures can be taken that encourage temporary migration, with better means to
ensure the return of migrants and curb illegal migration; promote policies and management that
achieve 'brain gain and brain circulation'; ensure the consideration of ‘ethical approaches’ in the codes
of practice in recruitment; craft domestic measures that ensure the return of workers; and other
measures that maximize the utilization of remittance receipts. In the long run, developing countries
should not become over-reliant on labour export to the neglect of other productive and export sectors.
All countries must generate adequate economic growth and employment opportunities to meet the
needs of their peoples.
Those developing countries that have a critical mass of human resource pools should
incorporate the labour export component into their trade and development strategies at the national
level. Ensuring the sufficient availability of skills for the domestic economy while, at the same time,
leveraging human resources in international trade requires a major and sustained investment in the
development of skills through education, training, and institution building. To be truly competitive in
global labour markets, the quality and quantity of labour needs to be skilled within certain parameters.
OSCE, IOM and ILO(2006), Handbook on Establishing Effective Labour Migration Policies in Countries of
Origin and Destination, pp. 77-81.
Chapter VI 49
Also, developing countries need to include an enhanced and predictable access to export markets for
their skilled labour as a priority in their trade negotiations agenda. They also need to enter into the
development-oriented return of their workers as well as a ‘brain gain’ agenda for their skilled
personnel. This should be done in cooperation with the destination country governments and diasporas.
At the international level, the best approach towards the promotion of a more open and
predictable yet rule-based market access to all developing countries wanting to export labour is for
meaningful commitments to be made in GATS. Such commitments should cover service providers at
all skill levels, from all developing countries, and be complemented with facilitation initiatives in
terms of procedure as well as administrative and qualification requirements. Bilateral and regional
trade agreements (e.g. the agreements between the United States and Mexico, Spain and Morocco,
France and Morocco, Spain and Senegal) have also served as very useful instruments in this regard.
Even in terms of unilateral liberalization schemes, developed country governments could
liberalize de jure to the extent of the de facto situation prevailing in these countries, thereby making it
easier to reduce the gap between what they are willing to commit to multilaterally and the effective
market access which they are granting. A number of countries (e.g. the United Kingdom and Spain)
have set examples of a ‘market access plus’ approach to support the temporary movement of
developing country workers. These then return to their home country in the ‘brain gain’ mode.
The GATS negotiations can be an important avenue to facilitate the temporary movement of
natural persons supplying services (Mode 4) at the multilateral level. However, no substantive
progress in this area of the Doha negotiations has been achieved. This has been so due to difficulties in
finding an agreed upon methodology at the multilateral level for managing the movement of services
providers to ensure that such movement is temporary (which still has to be defined and agreed upon by
WTO members) and not permanent. Transparency of rules and regulations to facilitate access to
export markets, as well as facilitating the accession of developing countries to existing mutual
recognition arrangements (MRAs) have also been sought. Some countries have resorted to bilateral
and regional arrangements in facilitating the movement of workers. However, these must remain
supplementary to the multilateral means. For example, the US-Singapore free trade agreement
provides Singapore with a quota for service providers under the H1B visa programme.47
There is a need to raise awareness – in both developed and developing countries – of the
actual cost and benefits of labour integration, together with a sustained dialogue between labour and
global enterprises. This would include economy-wide analysis of labour requirements sectorally –
both domestic and foreign as well as in the short to medium-term – to determine the best policy mixes
on migration. International cooperation for a better-managed migration policy would certainly be
useful. This would include devising rules and regulations on employment and labour, visas, human
resource development, structural adjustment policies and social safety nets. Policies could be geared
towards better managing these movements through the regulated entry of temporary workers rather
than through outright prohibition which often leads to illegal migration and other attendant problems.
This scheme provides visas to a total of 65,000 foreign workers wishing to work in the United States.
50 Globalization for Development
ENERGY, TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT
7.1. The problematic of recent high energy prices
The past few years have witnessed wide fluctuations in oil prices, which reached record levels
in the summer of 2006 and continue to rise. Generated by the unexpected increase in world
consumption and geopolitical upheavals, this price volatility has led to a global consensus on the need
for a strategic and development-conducive energy portfolio.
Higher oil prices affect the economies of developing countries at both the macro- and micro-
levels. An important part of the effects are transmitted through changes in the terms of trade.
According to UNCTAD estimates, the terms of trade of countries in whose exports fuel products play
a substantial role increased by 30 per cent during 2002-2004. 48 All fuel-importing developing
countries with manufacturing-dominated exports experienced deterioration in their terms of trade
during this period. The terms-of-trade losses for East and South Asian economies with predominantly
manufacturing exports ranged from 8 per cent for the Taiwan Province of China to over 14 per cent for
India in 2003 and 2004. The effects were less pronounced in economies such as Colombia, Costa Rica,
Viet Nam and South Africa whose exports include significant shares of both manufactures and
primary products. In the case of Malaysia and Mexico – for which fuels account for one tenth of
exports – the positive contribution of higher fuel prices largely offset the negative impact of
deterioration of terms of trade in manufactures on their overall terms of trade during the same period.
While the intensity of oil use has declined in developed countries since the first oil shock in
1973, developing countries have significantly increased the use of oil as a commercial fuel, especially
with increasing industrialization. According to the IEA, Africa's oil use intensity (oil consumption in
relation to GDP) in 2002 was 2.34 times higher than that of the OECD. Thus, the impact of high oil
prices is felt strongly when oil prices rise. This is particularly so in net oil-importing countries with
very low per capita income. On average, the impact is estimated to be a 1.5 per cent drop in GDP for a
US$10 per barrel price increase, and a drop of up to 3 per cent for very poor countries. During the first
two oil shocks of the 1970s and 1980s, inflation and unemployment increased dramatically in Africa
and in LDCs. During the present upturn in oil prices, the experience has – to some extent – been
reversed by the application of prudent monetary and fiscal policies.
However, there are signs that inflationary pressures are beginning to take hold. Companies are
struggling with lower demand and higher energy costs as well as with the demand for higher wages. A
number of countries, including Burundi, Seychelles, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have
already seen inflation climbing rapidly. The African Development Bank predicts that current high oil
prices, if sustained, will translate into an average increase in inflation of 2.6 percentage points for oil-
importing African countries in 2006. One other obvious effect of the oil price increase is higher oil
import bills. A survey of African importers by the African Development Bank shows that oil accounts
for more than 15 per cent of total imports in 12 countries and for 10 to 15 per cent in 16 countries.
Oil-exporting countries are experiencing different problems. Oil revenue has risen to
unprecedented levels, generating massive windfall gains. In 2004 and 2005, the windfall gains that
accrued to the Governments of nine oil-exporting countries in Africa exceeded US$15 billion.
Research by the Overseas Development Institute estimates the surpluses generated by the eight largest
oil exporters in Africa to be as high as US$22 billion in 2006, growing to US $35 billion in 2015 at
See UNCTAD (2006), Adjusting To Recent Changes In The Energy Sector: Challenges And Opportunities
52 Globalization for Development
current prices.49 In the oil-exporting countries of Africa and LDCs, the revenue flow resulting from
high oil prices has caused real exchange rates to appreciate. This may weaken the competitiveness of a
country's other exports and cause its traditional export sector to shrink. The effect, described as the
‘Dutch Disease’, requires remedies to reduce excess liquidity such as by investing overseas revenues
that are surplus to the absorptive capacity of the economy.
The issue of how to invest the surplus is also receiving growing attention. While prudence
would dictate that the excess funds should be invested conservatively so as to provide income for
future generations, it could be argued that it is possible to invest in development without straining the
absorptive capacity of the surplus country – for instance, by placing the surplus in a fund for regional
development. Discussions about possible arrangements are under way in African institutions such as
the African Development Bank.
Outside the oil sector itself, a rise in oil prices has similar implications at the micro-level in
both oil-importing and oil-exporting countries. Rising prices reduce the real disposable income of
households outside the oil sector, particularly of urban households (firewood remains the most widely
used fuel in rural areas, particularly among poor people). They also raise production costs in most
sectors, including both industry and agriculture, and may damage competitiveness.
Moreover, oil accounts for virtually all the fuel used in the transportation sector in the
developing countries of Africa and other LDCs. Thus, understandably, the impact of rising prices on
these economies is great. Without the shield of price controls, increased transportation costs resulting
from high oil prices have a direct impact on the movement of goods. For instance, Ethiopia has made
progress in increasing the rate of economic growth. However, current high oil prices have pushed up
transportation costs, thus raising production costs. This affects the competitiveness of the country's
major export, coffee. Furthermore, a shortage of truck fuel is hampering drought relief in the south of
the country. As is evident in the case of coffee, the impact on export-oriented agriculture can be
particularly severe. Agriculture employs the majority of the population in most African countries, and
remains of great importance both for food security as well as foreign exchange earnings. However,
farmers are now faced with increasing costs of fuel needed to operate farm equipment and irrigation
systems. Also, higher costs of energy-intensive supplies (such as fertilizer) lead to the diminishing use
of these supplies and, thus results in lower productivity.
Moreover, rising oil prices also affect Government finances. Often, poverty reduction
programmes in oil-importing countries get affected because funds are reallocated to cover the rising
costs of fuel. Many countries have attempted to alleviate the effect of energy prices on poverty with
the help of subsidies. While subsidies may help to mitigate the immediate impact of oil price increases,
they may not be the most appropriate instruments to deal with high oil prices in the longer term. The
burden of subsidies on government budgets may be unsustainable for most countries. Moreover,
subsidies may also delay the necessary adjustments in consumer behaviour and demand structure.
Indeed, in some countries, there appears to be considerable scope for the reduction of energy costs
through market liberalization (see Box 12). However, the removal of subsidies has often caused public
unrest in several developing countries. In 2005, a decision to increase fuel prices by 30 per cent in
Indonesia was met with widespread protests. In 2005, several cities in Nigeria were paralysed by
strikes protesting against fuel price increases under a policy of deregulating the downstream sector.
Michael Warner, September 2005, “Sustained Oil, Gas and Mineral windfalls mean that Africa could fund a
substantial portion of its own MDG Financing Gap”
Chapter VII 53
Box 12. Energy-saving measures in Hyderabad
In Hyderabad (India) only the richest 10 per cent of households used liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in 1980.
Middle-class households used kerosene because they could not obtain LPG, a more efficient fuel. There was no
kerosene for the poor because middle-class households bought the limited amounts available for public
distribution. As a result, the poor had to use wood, which was even more expensive than kerosene. When the
Indian Government liberalized energy markets and relaxed restrictions on the production and import of LPG,
more middle-class households switched to LPG. Supplies of kerosene were then more plentiful and more
available to the poor. More than 60 per cent of households in Hyderabad now use LPG.
7.2. Dealing with oil price rise
One consequence of the increase in oil prices is that the Governments of oil-importing
countries have an incentive to make their domestic oil markets more efficient. Since the 1980s, many
developing countries have opened their energy markets to competition. However, competition in
importation is difficult to achieve owing to the limited size of the markets and deficiencies in
infrastructure, such as poor port facilities. Thus, the refining and distribution of oil products tend to be
natural monopolies that have to be regulated. However, with regard to oil procurement, there appears
to be room for increased cooperation between developing countries, including on tendering procedures.
Financing oil imports is another area where gains could be made, particularly by using structured
financing techniques more intensively.
All strategies which might be adopted by oil-importing countries to deal with oil price
increases would entail some sacrifices. The strategies differ mainly in the timing of the sacrifices.
Cutbacks in expenditure are one way of absorbing the consequences immediately. If the consequences
can be postponed and spread over a longer period, their impact on development may be less
pronounced. Governments can avoid the impact of oil price increases by hedging oil imports through
the purchase of derivatives such as options, futures, and swaps. No doubt this would have to be done
much in advance of the price increase. Governments may also use the compensatory financial
mechanisms provided by international financial institutions, even though they would usually be
subject to conditionalities. Existing multilateral schemes for compensatory financing do not fully meet
the needs of developing countries – they are often not large enough in proportion to the shocks, and
are often provided too late. Indeed, there is much scope for strengthening South-South and regional
cooperation in this area (see Box 13). Measures to enhance efficient use of energy are also essential.
Box 13. Venezuela’s Petrocaribe initiative: South-South cooperation in energy
Venezuela launched a scheme, the Petrocaribe initiative, in which participating countries from the Caribbean
region can benefit from low-cost long-term financing to buy their oil. Under the initiative, when the price per
barrel is greater than US $50, only 60 per cent of the cash is needed upfront, while the remaining 40 per cent
can be paid over a 25-year financing period (including a two-year grace period) at an interest rate of 1 per cent
per annum. As a part of the agreement, a fund is established for social and economic programmes, with
Venezuela making an initial contribution of US$50 million, and additional contributions made by participating
With regard to oil-exporting countries, strategies focus on ways of avoiding the expansion of
export revenues, which leads to excess liquidity and causes the ‘Dutch Disease’. Such strategies
usually have two elements. The first is a decision or rule that attempts to put a brake on government
spending. This is usually done (either explicitly or implicitly) by estimating a rate of growth of
potential output, and avoiding expenditure increases that are not compatible with this estimate. The
second uses the method of both sterilizing revenues that are surplus to current requirements as well as
ensuring that such revenues are put to good use (e.g. for national or regional development). The use
may vary. However, the focus is either on preserving inter-generational equity by reserving funds for a
future date (i.e. when the oil will have run out), or on smoothing out cyclical economic fluctuations by
releasing funds when oil prices fall as also when other indicators point to the economy needing an
54 Globalization for Development
infusion of funds. The issue of where funds should be parked in the interim (i.e. until they are re-
injected into the economy one way or another) has attracted increasing attention recently.50
All this has resulted in the balance of power shifting in favour of national oil and gas
companies (NOCs). Many of them – especially those from resource-rich states that have profited from
soaring prices for oil and gas – may be taking a more prominent role on the global markets, perhaps
competing more strongly with the major international oil companies. Moreover, high oil prices and the
increasing clout of state-owned/controlled companies have transformed the mergers and acquisitions
market. Indeed, the energy industry has undergone the biggest merger boom since the wave of
consolidation among major oil companies at the end of the 1990s. In 2006, the total value of deals
involving energy companies was US$566 billion, up from US$372 billion in 2005. In 2007 the value
of deals is set to be higher still: announcements for 2007 (so far) already nearly match the 2005 total at
US$356 billion. NOCs spent $57 billion on acquisitions last year, accounting for a third of the value of
all transactions in oil and gas exploration and production worldwide.
Much of the recent activity has been domestic, such as the acquisitions of Rosneft and
Gazprom, as well as the asset deal between China's Sinopec and China Petrochemical, both state-
owned. However, a rising number of the deals are international, such as China's CNOOC which paid
US$2.7 billion to South Atlantic Petroleum for a 45 per cent stake in the Akpo field in Nigeria, and
India's ONGC which purchased the Colombian assets of Omimex for US$850 million. While China
and India are making deals overseas to secure resources, companies from other resource-rich states are
taking advantage of ample liquidity to expand overseas. Perhaps the most momentous development is
that NOCs from resource-rich countries are taking their interest in the ‘security of demand’ to its
logical conclusion by trying to buy consumer-focused companies in destination countries.
Because natural gas is overtaking coal to become the second most important global energy
source after oil, international trade in natural gas is predicted to evolve progressively towards
worldwide integration. The fact that the traditional business model in the gas industry is changing is
evident in the flexibility of LNG (liquefied natural gas) ships increasingly allowing sellers to bring gas
to markets with the highest value. The rapidly growing LNG market-share already transfers price
signals among markets as distant as Japan, Spain and the United States. With the Atlantic LNG market
set to equal the Pacific market by 2010, a definite trend towards the establishment of a global gas
market is becoming evident. The tremendous growth in LNG trade as well as the increasing
importance of gas in the current and future world energy mix are attracting more and more attention to
the evolution of the LNG markets and their implications for all market players.
7.3. Energy security in the global market context
The concept of ‘energy security’, which first emerged in the 1970s, has broadened and
assumed the utmost importance. Consuming countries focus on the ‘security of supply’ – i.e. the
reliability and availability of energy at reasonable prices. Exporting countries, on the other hand, are
more concerned about the ‘security of demand’ – i.e. a sufficient access to markets and consumers that
will justify future investment (and the protection of their national revenues). The Russian Federation
placed the theme of ‘energy security’ as the central issue during its G8 presidency.
A further examination of the issue reveals that the differences are even sharper. For the
Russian Federation today, energy security is about the state retaking control of the ‘commanding
heights’ of the energy industry and extending that control downstream i.e. over the critical export
pipelines that provide a substantial part of government revenues. In contrast, Europe’s concerns centre
At an African Development Bank Meeting of African Finance Ministers in 2005, a proposal was made for the
Bank to establish an oil fund, with voluntary contributions coming in from a part of the windfall gains of major
oil companies from oil-producing countries. According to the ministers, this type of fund, could be used to help
African countries absorb the shock as well as support African developmental efforts.
Chapter VII 55
not so much on oil but on natural gas, as well as on the debate about its critical dependence on gas
imports. For other countries, the question is quite different: how can they compensate for the deficit in
domestic energy resources? Countries like China and India need to make sure that the energy problem
does not hold back the economic growth they need for development, which could result in social
turbulence. In the United States, energy security has a double focus: one is to offset any possible
disruptions in supply; and the other is to achieve the (often cited) goal of ‘energy independence,’ first
articulated as early as in the 1970s – although, in the years since, the United States has moved from
importing a third of its oil to as much as 60 per cent today.
In recent statements, OPEC ministers have indicated that, without the guarantee of a market in
the future, they may slow down investment in production capacity. OPEC members have expressed
concern that increased efficiency, alternative fuels, higher taxes on oil, and subsidies for alternatives to
oil will diminish and, perhaps, even reverse the growth in petroleum demand.
Meanwhile, cooperation between countries that produce and export energy resources,
particularly natural gas, is on the increase. There are discussions about bilateral ventures in natural gas,
of how to coordinate efforts in third countries, and how to work together on some deposits in the
countries of both parties. Talks of plurilateral cooperation have resurfaced in the Gas Exporting
Countries Forum and in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Indeed, while gas producing
countries consider how they should coordinate their actions, especially with regard to the pricing of
gas and the establishment of the main gas routes, fears have been expressed by some that such
cooperation constitutes the first steps towards the establishment of a ‘GASPEC’ (gas OPEC).
Any ‘solution’ of the issue of international energy security that includes only a part of the
energy chain will remain a partial solution. This applies to both upstream and downstream links in the
chain. It may be noted in this connection that, when the G8 leaders vowed ‘to reduce barriers to
energy investment and trade,’ they also added that: ‘It is especially important that companies from
energy producing and consuming countries can invest in and acquire upstream and downstream assets
internationally in a mutually beneficial way and respecting competition rules.’ 51
Increasing oil price volatility and the growing seriousness of global warming have driven
countries and institutions to diversify by exploring alternative energy sources, especially renewable
and climate-friendly ones. In connection with climate change concerns, it is clear that carbon
emissions (which have destabilizing effects on climate) will continue to rise and the sustainability of
the current energy system will increasingly be questioned. If current government policies do not
change, CO2 emissions will increase by 55 per cent between 2004 and 2030.52 This provides an
incentive for the consideration of alternative (and renewable) energy sources (solar, wind, geothermal,
biomass and biofuels) that promote both climate change mitigation (due to the low/zero greenhouse
gas emissions) as well as energy security (since renewable energy can often be sourced domestically)
and enhanced energy efficiency. Policy intervention will be needed to address the issues of energy
security as well as climate change concerns in such a way as to achieve both reduced energy security
risks and deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
7.4. Fostering an enabling environment: Realizing trade gains from the energy sector
The new energy paradigm has brought into focus the ‘international rules of the game’ that
apply to the energy sector, how they are implemented and how they can be strengthened. Oil and gas
industries have traditionally been dominated by state-owned, vertically integrated utilities engaged in
the production, transport and distribution of energy products. This has left little margin for trade and
competition in energy services. Energy goods have been largely exempted from trade rules, and are
St Petersburg Plan of Action on Global Energy Security, G8 Summit, St Petersburg, Russian Federation. 16
International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2007.
56 Globalization for Development
based on GATT general exceptions for national security and the conservation of exhaustible natural
resources. These exceptions have promoted the perception that, in general, international trade in (crude)
oil is governed by its own distinctive rules. This perception was strengthened by the fact that the main
oil and gas producers and exporters were outside of the WTO. Indeed, some still are, most notably
Algeria, Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation.
At the same time, energy trade and investment have been subject to the rules of the Energy
Charter Treaty, which has emerged as the international legal framework for the energy sector. The
Energy Charter provisions on trade are drawn from those of the WTO, in the most part by direct
reference to the WTO rules. The Charter Treaty addresses specific challenges for the energy sector
that are not covered by the WTO, in particular the issue of investment protection and the specific
characteristics of energy transit through electricity grids and pipelines.
Some provisions in the Energy Charter have been subject to much criticism. It has been
suggested that: they make the control of the transport network – considered a security issue – more
difficult; the dispute settlement mechanism foreseen for transit disputes gives too much power to the
conciliator; and the investment provisions should not apply exclusively to the post-investment phase.
The provisions envisaged on access to technologies as well as on the sovereign rights of a State over
its national resources are also considered by some to be insufficient.
With the accession to the WTO of Mexico (1986), Venezuela (1990), Oman (1995), Qatar
(1996), Saudi Arabia (2005), as well as the ongoing accession process of the Russian Federation,
attempts have been made to put energy on its agenda. A range of energy-related issues were raised in
the accession negotiations, as well as during the Uruguay Round. These included the issue of dual
pricing and, more specifically, the problems that arise in finding acceptable mechanisms (such as
export restrictions, export duties or taxes, and government provisions of low-cost energy inputs) to
keep domestic prices lower than world prices.
In 2002, Saudi Arabia (still an observer at that time) requested that energy taxation, subsidies
and incentives be included in the negotiations. Their concern was that the energy and environmental
policies of developed countries – which include energy and environmental taxes and subsidies – may
have negative economic implications for developing countries. Moreover, countries pursuing
environmental objectives may contravene their WTO obligations in a number of areas, while others
may seek to protect their domestic interests under the guise of environmental protection. Qatar has
recently been promoting natural gas as the economic and environmental fuel of choice in the WTO
Committee on Trade and Environment. It has also argued for the liberalization of trade on goods,
equipment and technologies used in conjunction with (liquefied) natural gas.
In 2006, the EU Trade Commissioner mooted the idea of a new WTO round of negotiations
that would address the energy sector, and seek to treat oil and gas in the same way as other traded
goods.53 This could potentially require oil and gas producers to liberalize distribution networks, thus
opening up access to gas pipelines, currently under monopoly control. Energy-importing developed
countries would like to eliminate barriers to trade in energy as increasing global demand for oil and
gas drives up prices. If producers do not support liberalization, it is suggested that they be offered in
exchange additional investment, as well as more security for their energy exports.
In a related development in the WTO services negotiations in February 2006, a group of
energy-importing nations and a few major energy exporters – including Canada, Saudi Arabia, the US,
Australia and the EU – tabled a ‘collective request’ to a group of developing countries – including
Brazil, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Kuwait, Nigeria, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates
– asking them to open up their markets to freer trade in energy services. The proposal covered sectors
Interview with the Wall Street Journal, 23 June 2006.
Chapter VII 57
that encompass the core activities of oil and gas production, processing and distribution. However,
these are limited in scope when compared to what the EU has proposed.
Subsidies for oil, coal, gas and nuclear power are often cited as a very significant barrier to
renewable energy. As a general matter, it is open to question whether WTO dispute settlement
proceedings would be a realistic option to challenge such subsidies: Governments might be reluctant
to deploy legal arguments that could result in challenges to their own support programmes.54 On the
other hand, to break out of the pattern of just a handful of countries participating substantially in
renewable energy deployment, it may be necessary to shift away from subsidies and preferential
public procurement in the renewable energy sector itself. It is accordingly important to examine
whether and to what extent trade regimes could be used to challenge or discipline policies (regulatory
barriers) that disadvantage renewable energy and, conversely, whether and to what extent Government
policies to promote renewable energy might be challenged as non-tariff measures.
Nevertheless, at least with respect to export subsidies, this consideration did not, for example, prevent the
launching of cases in the WTO where Canada and Brazil challenged each other’s measures on civil aircraft.
58 Globalization for Development
TRADE, ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Globalization has led to increased public awareness of the environmental effects of trade
growth and the important developmental implications of issues in the interface between trade and
environment. There is a general recognition that increased trade flows that result from globalization
have to be accompanied by environmental sustainability and poverty reduction to truly achieve
sustainable development. Environmental impact is perceived as an increasingly important factor of
production that directly bears on production costs, competitiveness and opportunities in international
trade. If properly implemented, trade liberalization can lead developing countries to access new
environmentally sound technologies, goods, services, and production methods. These can facilitate
transition to environmentally sustainable production and consumption patterns and augment their
international competitiveness. For the first time in the history of the GATT/WTO, trade and
environment issues have become a negotiating subject of global liberalization. Hence the
environmental effects of enhanced trade are being much emphasized, and are becoming more and
more the centre of public discussion.
Issues at the intersection of trade liberalization, environmental protection and economic
development have become more closely integrated with globalization. These are climate change and
biodiversity; new environmental, health, and food-safety requirements; and access to environmental
goods, services and technologies, and related sustainable production methods. They will pose
formidable challenges for the international community in the years to come as any attempt to reduce
poverty will have to take the natural environment into consideration.55 It is the poor who are the most
dependent upon the natural environment to meet their daily food, health, livelihood, and shelter needs.
Thus the effects of environmental degradation are felt most immediately and keenly by the poor.
8.1. Trade, climate change and sustainable development
The international community has now reached a consensus regarding the fact that the
increasing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) such as carbon dioxide and methane – most of which
are linked to the human use of fossil fuels – are causing changes in global climate systems. Climate
change currently poses one of the greatest risks to environmental, social and economic development
globally. Private and public responses to the climate crisis are bringing significant changes in several
economic sectors, especially related to energy. Some of the recent trends in the energy sector are
outlined in Chapter VII. This section highlights the broad range of relationships among climate
change, trade and development: how trade policy might impact on climate change through economic
transformation; how significant competitiveness and market access concerns may be affected; how
climate change may physically impact economic structures, in particular in agriculture and services, as
well as infrastructure; and how trade rules interact with measures for climate change mitigation.
The UN Development Programme's Human Development Report 2007/2008 focuses on
potentially dramatic impacts of climate change upon agricultural production and food security, water
stress and insecurity, rising sea levels and flooding, ecosystems and biodiversity, and human health.56
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change outlines mitigation options for the following sectors:
energy supply, transport, buildings, industry, and agriculture, forestry, and waste - reflecting the extent
to which climate measures are affecting nearly every aspect of the economy.57 The new sense of
urgency behind efforts to curb global warming may provide the stimulus for a more proactive
For more details on some of these salient issues at the interface of trade, environment and development, see
UNCTAD’s report on Trade, environment and development (TD/B/COM.1/86).
UNDP (2007), Human Development Report 2007/2008, pp. 17-19.
IPCC (2007), Summary for Policymakers of the Synthesis Report of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, pp.
60 Globalization for Development
approach to integrating trade policy within sustainable development strategies. Global concerns on the
impact of climate change have emerged as a key development theme with globalization.
Impacts of Trade and Investment upon Climate Change
International trade may impact climate change in a multi-faceted way through its (i) scale
effects, resulting in increased economic activity; (ii) composition effect leading to changes in the
structure or patterns of economic activity; (iii) boost and changes in technology; and (iv) direct GHG
emission effects, inter alia, from increased maritime, truck and air transport.
The scale effect of trade will generally have a negative climate change impact, because higher
production of most goods and services will generate more GHG emissions. The composition effect of
trade liberalization tends to shift production to goods and services in which countries have a
comparative or absolute competitive advantage. Depending on national policies, this might lead to a
more or less carbon-efficient economy. The overall outcome, however, could be a global reduction of
GHG emissions, provided there is internalization of the environmental costs of GHG emissions. The
technological effect of enhanced trade and investment flows can make a significant contribution to
material and energy efficiency, and thus to climate change mitigation. Conversely, more trade and
investment generally lead to directly higher GHG emissions from increased maritime, truck and air
transport, in addition to higher electricity consumption by global computer and telecommunications
The right mix of specific trade and investment policy measures can optimize multi-faceted
impact of trade and investment liberalization on climate change. In this regard, tariff liberalization for
renewable and clean conventional energy and related equipment, as well as energy-efficient goods or
inputs for energy- and carbon-efficient production processes is one promising cluster of trade policy
tools. Another is the reduction or removal of subsidies for conventional energy sources and energy-
intensive sectors. A third cluster is the use of technical requirements and standards to encourage
carbon-efficient modes of production and consumption. Fourthly, government procurement can be
used to encourage consumption and investment in low-carbon goods and technologies. Last but not
least, investment policies can be geared to gradually redirect investment into carbon-efficient sectors
and simultaneously enhance carbon efficiency in energy-intensive industries. This implies greater
opportunities for energy-efficient and carbon-neutral industries and stimulating technological
innovation. Also, changes in the energy mix will often support local energy and development needs
more effectively than fossil fuel imports. The Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol
offers significant opportunities for attracting and directing investment into carbon-efficient or carbon-
neutral areas, including changes in the energy mix.
In order to restructure markets toward carbon neutrality, consumers, corporations, and
governments need to consider certain increased costs as medium to long-term investments. Businesses
directly involved in GHG-intensive activity need to be supported to make the necessary transition to
minimize dislocation in the interest of broader societal benefits. Developing countries that invest
private capital and direct their public policies toward climate-friendly products will stimulate domestic
innovation, reap the advantages of technological "leapfrogging", and are likely to increase their export
potential. Developing private and public sector strategies with climate change in mind also often offers
local environmental protection and other benefits as well. Countries that fail to do so risk
consolidation in dirty industries on the lower end of the value chain, and damage the environment.
The total energy consumption of web-hosting servers worldwide is estimated to be equivalent to that of global
Chapter VIII 61
Possible tensions between trade law and attempts to address climate change
Although the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the Kyoto
Protocol have no specific trade obligations, they have significant trade implications as they aim to
modify the carbon impacts of the ways in which goods and services are produced and consumed. The
interface between trade rules and climate change concerns the WTO disciplines on tariffs, technical
barriers to trade, government procurement, subsidies, investment policies, and border tax adjustment.
The growing importance of national measures to address climate change, the UNFCCC as an element
of international economic governance, and climate change as a factor in international commerce will
heighten the importance of the interface between trade and environment policy but does not pose an
inherent conflict. Rather, it does necessitate enhanced coordination among policymakers.
The principle of differentiated level of obligations among the parties according to their
different stages of development – adopted in Agenda 21 in 1992 – is the basis of the UNFCC and the
Kyoto Protocol. There are prospects for evolving post-Kyoto commitments frameworks (i.e. beyond
the 2012 targets for developed economies), with a potential for further (but differentiated) engagement
by some developing countries. The United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Bali (December
2007) resulted in the adoption of the Bali roadmap. The Bali roadmap charts the course for a new
negotiating process to be concluded by 2009. This will ultimately lead to a post-2012 international
agreement on climate change. There is also increasing interest in ensuring access to low-carbon
technologies and to additional financial resources for implementing climate change policy.
Competitiveness and market access concerns
The competitiveness concern arises regarding two issues. On the one hand, the likelihood that
a country that takes stronger climate change mitigation measures might put its companies or industries
at a disadvantage relative to foreign competitors in countries that do not adopt similarly strong
measures. This may lead to a “carbon leakage” problem, where strong mitigation measures may
encourage companies to relocate to other countries. On the other hand, there is concern that even
among countries taking similarly strong climate change mitigation measures, there is unfair
competition due to differentiated employment of such measures. The World Bank finds that "there is
some evidence – although it is not very pronounced – of leakage of carbon/energy-intensive industries
to developing economies that could be attributed to more stringent climate change policies and energy
efficiency standards."59 Sectoral characteristics also matter, i.e., how energy intensive is the economy
and to what extent companies and the sector are in a position to pass on cost increases to customers.
Developing countries face a significant challenge due to their industrial structure and its
carbon intensity. Investment in energy-intensive industries in developing countries may expand,
resulting from domestic needs for industrialization, energy security, physical-infrastructural
development, but also redeployment of carbon-intensive industries from developed to developing
countries. For example, "environmentally-sensitive industries" (chemicals, metals, minerals, pulp and
paper) represent a growing share of exports for several Latin American countries.60 Within these
sectors, developing countries often concentrate on the bulk market segment where higher
carbon/energy prices are difficult to pass onto consumers.
A potentially significant problem for developing countries is the competitiveness and market
access impact of technical measures to trade, caused by requirements on energy efficiency product and
process standards or related eco-labelling programmes. In its recent study, based on a simple two-
World Bank (2007), Warming Up to Trade? (Washington D.C.), pp. 37.
60Presentation by UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, 29 November 2007. Latin
America and the Caribbean: Environmental Impacts of Trade, accessible at:
62 Globalization for Development
country trade model, the World Bank singles out energy-efficiency standards as likely to have the
most significant trade impact of all trade policy tools for climate-change mitigation.
Impact of climate change on trade and investment
Climate change will have significant implications on trade flows arising from its impact on
agriculture, forestry, trade-related physical infrastructure, and services such as tourism. Weather
extremes and related natural disasters can disrupt specific sectors, notably agriculture, and negatively
impact infrastructure, in particular along coast lines. Tourism is likely to be impacted by weather
conditions and fundamental ecological changes. Rising temperatures are also likely to modify the
competitive advantage in agriculture based on ecological factors. The Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC)61 forecasts imply gradual but colossal shifts in production patterns, cultivated
crops and yields, the spread of pests and diseases, as well as accelerated desertification and droughts.
The introduction of climate response measures through the emerging carbon market and the Kyoto
Protocol will have trade and development implications as they are introduced in several sectors of the
economy, such as transportation, energy use, electricity generation, agriculture and forestry.
Many developing countries, in particular the small and vulnerable ones, will be particularly
hard hit by these climate change impacts. For example, sea-level rise is causing enhanced soil erosion,
loss of productive land, increased risk of storm surges, reduced resilience of coastal ecosystems, and
raising attendant costs of responding to and adapting to these shocks. Countries in temperate zones are
likely to be far less affected or may even benefits from a longer vegetation period, more cultivable
crops and higher yields. As a result, international trade patters in agriculture will change over time
because of different supply and demand patterns, as well as yields.
8.2. Biodiversity, traditional knowledge and trade
The international approach to the protection of biodiversity continues to focus on innovative
ways to promote sustainable use, bringing economic, social and environmental benefits to nations and
their people. Biodiversity-rich countries are taking advantage of new trade and investment
opportunities for biodiversity products and services in the emerging market, with increasing
participation of the local private sector. UNCTAD's BioTrade Initiative has estimated that the world
market for natural ingredients used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical sectors amounts to over US$1
billion annually. Greater scientific certainty, public awareness, growing trade and investment activity
levels, as well as the availability of statistical data on environmental and economic losses associated
with certain patterns of development, have all led to more discussions and the promotion of more
pragmatic policy options aimed at sustainable development.
Harnessing the knowledge-for-development focus will require assisting developing countries
to benefit from their own resources: their rich traditional knowledge, innovations and practices (TK).
TK is the main asset of the poor who use it to derive goods and services from their natural
environment. Yet TK is being lost at alarming rates worldwide, as globalization and environmental
degradation are accelerating the break-up of traditional communities and endangering livelihoods.
There are also concerns that TK is being inappropriately exploited and patented by third parties
without the consent of the original holders of that TK, and without the fair sharing of resulting benefits.
There is need for concerted action at the national, regional, and international levels to redress this. A
key example is organic agriculture, whose production systems are built on a synthesis of local TK and
the results of modern research. In this way, producers who use local varieties adapted to local
conditions can achieve higher incomes and greater security than would be the case with conventional
The IPCC is a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
and UNEP to provide the decision-makers and others interested in climate change with an objective source of
information about climate change.
Chapter VIII 63
agriculture. Further, the protection of TK as intellectual property is an important means of harnessing
the potential benefits of TK for trade and development gains by the owners (of the TK) themselves.
8.3. New environmental, health and food safety requirements and market access
An important trend at the trade-environment-development interface is the growing impact of
new environmental, health and food-safety requirements (EHFSRs) on the access of developing
country products to key export markets. The proliferation of private voluntary standards (PVS) on
EHFSRs and sustainablility standards (mostly created by NGOs) in international trade, and their
impact on market access and national development of developing countries is a major concern. In
contrast to the proliferating standards, there is a dearth of empirical knowledge both about their impact
as well as about successful adjustment strategies to these standards taking into account national
developmental priorities. Four developments are particularly challenging:62
1) New EHFSRs are becoming more stringent, frequent, complex and multidimensional (i.e.
linking quality, environmental, and social issues, often in package form). This constitutes both
serious challenges as well as opportunities for export competitiveness, sustainable production,
and consumption methods at the national level.
2) There is a growing trend towards the ‘privatization’ of many EHFSRs, with voluntary
requirements imposed by the private sector co-existing and inter-acting with mandatory
governmental requirements. Governments set product characteristics, product-related
processes, and production methods (PPMs); the private sector and NGOs follow by imposing
specific non-product-related PPMs to meet the product characteristics. As it is open to
question whether or not private standards fall under the WTO disciplines, they pose serious
challenges in terms of justifiability, transparency, discrimination and equivalence.
3) Besides their function of providing technical quality-assurance, private standards often play a
governance role in global supply chains, leading to significant dependencies and the shifting
of costs and risks away from buyers, often to the disadvantage of producers/exporters in
4) The new bread of private voluntary standards, but also some sustainability standards of NGOs,
poses particular challenges for small farmers in developing countries. It is not so much the
lack of quality or productivity of small growers, but the enhanced management and
coordination costs in implementing and complying with PVS that are causing very high
recurrent adjustment costs, on average about 20 percent of turnover or up to 50 percent of total
income of small farmers63, often causing massive drop-outs of small producers from PVS
compliance schemes. According to a recent study on horticultural exports from Ghana, Kenya,
United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia to the United Kingdom, over 50 per cent of
For more in-depth analysis, see: UNCTAD, The implications of private-sector standards for good agricultural
practices - exploring options to facilitate market access for developing-country exporters of fruit and vegetables:
Experiences of Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica (UNCTAD/DITC/TED/2007/2), Geneva, 2007; UNCTAD,
Challenges and opportunities arising from private standards on food safety and environment for exporters of
fresh fruit and vegetables in Asia: Experiences of Malaysia, Thailand and Viet Nam
(UNCTAD/DITC/TED/2007/6), Geneva, 2008; and UNCTAD, Private-sector standards and national schemes
for good agricultural practices – implications for exports of fresh fruit and vegetables from Sub-Saharan Africa:
Experiences of Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia ((UNCTAD/DITC/TED/2008/1), Geneva, 2008.
PIP Magazine, No. 12 (November 2007), p. 4, accessible through: www.coleacp.org/pip; Graffham, A.,
Karehu, E., and MacGregor, J., Impact of EurepGAP on small-scale vegetable growers in Kenya, Fresh Insights,
No. 6, London, 2007, p. 3, accessible at: www.agrifoodstandards.net.
64 Globalization for Development
small producers participating in PVS compliance schemes have dropped out of these schemes
between March 2005 and September 2006.64
The mushrooming of new EHFSRs has to be dealt with in a proactive and coordinated way.
This requires the development of national adjustment strategies that minimize the costs and maximize
the benefits of the new requirements (e.g. through lower pollution or higher efficiency in the use of
materials, occupational and food safety, etc.). It also requires actions to seize production and export
opportunities including through 'front-of-pipe' solutions on production processes, materials for
environmentally friendly goods and services. These would include organic agriculture products, other
biodegradable products, natural colorants and flavours.
Of particular importance is conceptual clarity on the design of national programmes on Good
Agricultural Practices (GAP) that in a modular (multi-tier) way allowing producers to meet national
and regional (including South-South trade) requirements with buyer recognition in lucrative overseas
export markets. In these national GAP programmes, governments need to pay special attention to
support the participation of small producers through supportive/flanking measures, which lower
adjustment costs, provide bridging funding, support the creation or continuation of stable and well-
managed groups of small producers, and provide improved extension and training services.
8.4. Developing environmentally preferable products, services and production
International public attention on the problems caused by climate change, material and
pollution intensity of economic growth and unsustainable life styles as well as the pressure from new
EHFSRs have heightened the interest in environmentally preferable products, services and production
methods. These are the strategic markets of the future. Developing countries need to identify market
niches and the opportunities open to them as well as the policy initiatives needing to be launched in
time to turn these opportunities into reality.
The growing consumer demand for environmentally preferable products (EPPs) presents new
opportunities for those producers and countries that can produce them in more energy-efficient and
environmentally friendly ways, especially if they can effectively communicate this to consumers. A
prime example of this is the rapid expansion of organic agriculture markets: global growth rates have
been over 12 per cent over the past decades, and compare favorably with the overall agriculture
market growth of only 2-4 per cent. In addition to the economic advantages accruing from premium
prices and expanding sales, organic agriculture offers developing country producers (including
smallholders) an array of environmental, health, social, cultural, and food security benefits (see Box
14). Other examples of EPPs include energy-efficient electronic goods and certified wood products.
Yet even here, differing standards can become obstacles to trade. Thus, further harmonization and
equivalency are needed to fully reap the gains in trade and sustainable development.
Graffham, A, Greenhalgh, P, Kleih, U, Legge, A, MacGregor, J, Orchard, J, Mapping different supply chains
of fresh produce exports from Africa to the UK, Natural Resources Institute, London, October 2007, accessible
Chapter VIII 65
Box 14. The East African Organic Organic Products Standard
In recent years, growth in production and exports of certified organic products has been improving the
livelihoods of thousands of smallholder farmers in Kenya, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Yet
their governments have had no specific supportive policies or research and extension services for organic
agriculture (OA). In 2005, there were at least five public or private standards for OA production in the region,
which stakeholders saw as a potential technical barrier to regional trade and collaboration. Consequently, a
general consensus began forming that a common East African organic standard was needed. Research within
the framework of the UNEP-UNCTAD Capacity Building Task Force on Trade, Environment and
Development (CBTF), and following multi-stakeholder consultations in the three countries, an East African
Organic Products Standard (EAOPS) was adopted by the East African Council of Ministers in April 2007 and
launched, together with the associated East African Organic Mark, by the Prime Minister of the United
Republic of Tanzania in May 2007 (for more information, see: www.unep-
unctad.org/cbtf/events/dsalaam2.asp). The EAOPS is the second regional organic standard in the world after the
European Union's and the first ever to have been developed through cooperation between the organic
movements and the national standards bodies. It is expected to boost organic trade and market development in
the region, raise awareness about the benefits of OA among farmers and consumers, and create a unified
negotiating position to influence international organic standard-setting processes. It should also facilitate
technical equivalence or benchmarking with standards in developed-country markets, which would help EAC
organic farmers gain access to those lucrative export markets.
8.5. International trade agreements for managing the trade and environment
In the Doha Round, and for the first time in the WTO history, trade and environment has
become a negotiating subject. The main challenge to the negotiations provided for in paragraph 31 (iii)
of the Doha Ministerial Declaration on environmental goods and services is to make three main
objectives – environmental sustainability, development and trade liberalization – converge in a
mutually supportive way. The current positions span a wide range of approaches. On the supply side,
there is the very pragmatic approach of putting forward self-defined lists of environmental goods. On
the demand side, there is the environmental project approach, which seeks to strengthen the hands of
the individual countries reflecting their divergent environmental situations and developmental
priorities. Still other approaches seek to bridge both sides in the negotiations. Irrespective of which
negotiating approach prevails, it will have far reaching implications in the longer term. The risk lies in
the absence of criteria, which may lead to a precedent, an inadequate introduction of this subject
matter in trade liberalization rounds, with consequences for the following rounds and tendency to deal
with the issue on the basis of negotiating power.
Climate change policy highlights the growing interface between energy and environmental
goods and services. Goods, equipment and technologies used in conjunction with renewable energy
sources - renewables - are one case in point. The strength of the international commitment on climate
change may play a catalytic role and influence the modalities for cooperation, including in the WTO,
be it as a separate "WTO climate initiative" or in the context of the negotiations conducted under the
mandate provided for in paragraph 31 (iii) of the Doha Ministerial Declaration regarding the reduction
or, as appropriate, elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services.. As
climate change does not form part of the negotiating history in the Doha Round, there is a need to
carefully manage the interplay between the on-going work and any new initiatives. There is a growing
consensus, however, that the negotiations on environmental goods and services should include
renewables, and possibly technologies for cleaner utilization of conventional energy sources such as
natural gas-driven turbines, low-emission coal combustion, and carbon capture and storage. They
could also include climate positive goods such as biofuels and energy-efficient construction materials
and appliances or even goods derived from more GHG-efficient processes and production methods.
The expansion of product coverage in the negotiations to include these goods is not without
problems. While the existing HS (harmonized system tariff codes) can capture most renewables, the
ubiquitous nature of some goods and their component parts means that the dual use problem will
66 Globalization for Development
remain over and above what could be sorted out by a greater specificity in the tariff codes. As for
GHG-efficient goods or goods produced in a GHG-efficient way, there are simply no HS codes to
match, not to mention that climate or energy efficiency is a moving target.
The inclusion of goods derived from GHG-efficient processes and production methods (PPMs)
is especially problematic as it may dramatically increase the scope for protectionist measures. The
relative importance of tariffs and non-tariff barriers (NTBs) is another sticky point. Lowering the tariff
reductions may well be a simpler task, but NTBs are considerably more important for the liberalization
to be commercially meaningful.
Another important issue is that climate positive technologies and the export of related goods
tend to be concentrated in developed countries. It is important to balance market opportunities brought
about by climate positive technologies and access to these technologies by developing countries.
“Technology will play an essential role in our collective response to climate change”.65 The ultimate
goal is to capture the "public goods" nature of innovation and international trade.
More than 50 countries with 80 percent of the world’s population now have measures in place,
both mandatory and voluntary, for energy efficiency. And yet there is a significant gap between
expectations and actual impacts. At the same time, energy efficiency standards affect trade flows and
market access. As the marketplace for energy and environmental goods and services becomes
increasingly global, so too is the need to ensure cooperation in the development of these standards.
Financial flows and official development assistance targeting climate positive technologies
may play a catalytic role in the development of renewables in developing countries through increased
trade, investment and technology transfer. Some developed countries (e.g. Germany) are involved in a
number of projects in developing countries. The international consensus on climate change provides
an important incentive framework for various types of cooperation arrangements.
Countries increasingly use bilateral and regional trade agreements to manage the trade and
environment interface. A variety of instruments has been deployed, ranging from environmental
chapters and side agreements to consultation, cooperation, and exception clauses. Among the OECD
members, Canada, EU, New Zealand and the USA have included the most comprehensive
environmental provisions in recent RTAs. The ‘Global Europe’ communication of November 2006
announced a set of new bilateral negotiations by the EU. Environmental concerns have a very
important role in these negotiations, which will be seeking substantial commitments from both sides,
with possible market access and development assistance incentives. Among non-OECD countries,
Chile’s efforts to include environmental provisions in its trade agreements are particularly noteworthy.
Few trade agreements among developing countries include environmental provisions like ASEAN and
8.6. Fostering an enabling environment: Promoting trade and environmental
The interface of trade-environment-development with globalizations necessitates a transition
to environmentally sustainable production and consumption patterns as well as international
competitiveness. Trade policies and trade liberalization should facilitate access to new
environmentally sound technologies, goods, services, and production methods.
In meeting this challenge, dealing with climate change has major trade and development
implications that the world as whole has to address. Three sets of policies are accordingly being
developed at the international level to ensure a coherent approach that will minimize the detrimental
effects and maximize possible opportunities. One set of policies concern 'Cap-and-Trade' policies on
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Chapter VIII 67
carbon pricing, taxation, emissions trading, and regulation. These policies will ensure that people face
the full socio-economic costs of their actions. A second set of policies promotes home-grown
technological solutions and incentives that will drive the development and deployment of a wide range
of low-carbon and high-efficiency products and services. A third set of policy measures will aim to
remove barriers to energy efficiency, and to inform, educate and persuade individuals on what they
can do to respond to climate change in each sector of the economy.
Effective action to counter climate change impact requires a global policy response. These
typically involves: (a) mitigation, or the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (i.e. investing in a low
carbon economic development path); and (b) adaptation, or by ‘climate proofing’ economies (i.e.
increasingly ensuring the development of climate-friendly societies). If the future global climate
regime is going to contain emission reduction commitments involving some developing countries,
developed countries should assist them in capacity-building, technology transfer, and adaptation. In
parallel, the impact of efforts made towards reducing emissions in those developing countries which
are highly dependent on the production/export of fossil fuels should also be examined. Special support
should be provided to them. The long-term nature of the climate change problem makes technological
change a central issue in policy considerations. Specific financing mechanisms should be made
available to them to help in the process of developing and adopting new energy technologies.
Renewable energy sources comprise an important means to reducing climate change.
Developing countries have two advantages contributing to the competitiveness of their renewable
energy sources. They tend to have strong renewable energy resources and (in many cases) a lower
costs profile for the production of equipment, components, and biofuels (see Box 15). These two
factors point to the scope for trade and cooperation in renewable energy. However there are major
considerations that still have to be addressed. These include tariff barriers affecting trade in renewable
energy, market deployment policies for renewable energy (i.e. measures that underwrite the costs of
introducing new technologies into the market), and other carbon-reducing energy technologies.
Financial flows and official development assistance targeting climate positive technologies may play a
catalytic role in the development of renewable energy sources in developing countries through
increased trade, investment and technology transfer. Some developed countries (e.g. Germany) are
involved in a number of projects in developing countries. The Kyoto Protocol provides an important
incentive framework for various types of cooperation arrangements.
Box 15. The Biofuels option
Among the measures for mitigating the impact of climate change, flexible mechanisms are being utilized to
ensure win-win situations in which trade and investment frameworks provide an incentive for cleaner
technology as well as lower carbon-intensive energy and transportation options, such as biofuels. In this regard,
as a pre-event to UNCTAD XII, a Conference on "An orderly transition towards a less carbon-intensive
economy: the biofuels option as a lever for inclusive sustainable development" was organized from 4-5
December 2007 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was jointly organized by UNCTAD and the Brazilian Energy
Planning Agency. It concluded that the worst impacts of climate change can still be avoided if decisive
collective action is taken. In this regard, the biofuels option offers win-win-win opportunities to developing
countries in terms of climate change benefits, rural development, decent work, energy diversification, while
leading to a less carbon-intensive economy. If properly introduced and sequenced, biofuels need not impair
food security and deforestation. However, the biofuels option should be considered in a broader policy and
economic context, taking fully into account individual country national circumstances. The conference stressed
that UNCTAD has a significant role to play in assisting developing countries facing the expected shifts in
relative prices and relative production costs stemming from the introduction of climate policies and measures.
Moreover, UNCTAD could contribute to a smoother transition to a post-high-carbon economy and to a more
robust international biofuels market. For a summary of the deliberations of the event, see “Outcome of the
conference “Biofuels: an option for a less carbon-intensive economy” (TD/416).
Addressing new EHFSRs is another emergent issue on the international agenda in the area of
trade and environment. The concern is how to design appropriate proactive adjustment strategies to
address new EHFSRs. This requires conceptual clarity, a good understanding of the role of supportive
68 Globalization for Development
or flanking policies, effective public-private partnerships as well as policy coherence at the national
level. At the initiative of several developing country members, the WTO SPS and CTE Committees
have recently begun discussing the salient issues of private sector standards and WTO disciplines. The
development of regional standards by developing countries – as part of proactive adjustment
approaches – is a worthwhile initiative because, apart from facilitating access to overseas markets,
such standards can also ease regional trade.
Liberalization efforts in the WTO on environmental goods and services should be considered
in conjunction with the possibilities for supporting and financing these efforts, and to make them
commercially, financially and technically viable. So far, no institutional linkages have been
established between the negotiations and the different fora dealing with development finance and
assistance. There is a need to promote coherence in the negotiations between the WTO and other
environmental infrastructure projects financed by multilateral financial institutions, especially in terms
of meeting financial needs and building capacity.
The key driver in introducing environmental provisions in RTAs is ensuring a level playing-
field among the parties. This can be done by giving a legal expression to a commitment to maintain
high levels of environmental protection. Another motivation is to enhance cooperation in
environmental matters. The fact that an increasing number of RTAs serve as a framework for
cooperation in environmental matters does not necessarily (and always) make such cooperation trade-
related. In fact, most cooperation agreements are not trade-related. They have typically taken place
(and would have taken place anyway) among countries with shared ecosystems. Indeed, a lot of
regional arrangements for environmental cooperation pre-date the respective RTAs.
Finally, there seems to be a missing link between international trade negotiations (multilateral
and regional) and the need to be responsive to broader development goals, such as the MDGs. There is
a need to look at the technical issues arising in the negotiations on trade and environment from a
broader development perspective. The MDGs are one case in point. There are many potential target
(environmental) areas to be derived from MDGs such as the supply of drinking water, drainage
systems, sanitation, the disposal of sewage, waste disposal, and the development of renewable energy
sources. The choices the WTO Members make could also be linked to multilateral environmental
agreements. Bringing a development dimension to negotiations on environmental goods and services
is important to promote sustainable development.
ENSURING FAIR COMPETITION
9.1. Trade, competition and global enterprises
Trade liberalization alone is often not enough to maintain an optimal level of competition in
all economic sectors. Private actors – fearful of the consequences of trade liberalization and stronger
competition – may be inclined to protect their interests and market shares by introducing cross-border
anti-competitive practices. These include international cartels, abuses of dominance, and the abuse of
intellectual property rights. In some circumstances, such practices can limit international trade even
more severely than high tariffs and just as severely as non-tariff barriers. Market entry may be
restricted, for instance, where suppliers enter into exclusive arrangements with their distributors, or
large retailing chains (with important buyer power) refuse to distribute traded goods on reasonable
terms and conditions. International cartels established to fix prices and allocate markets would prevent
competition from alternative sources of goods or services from undercutting the high prices imposed
by cartel members. If an effective competition law is in place, such anti-competitive practices can be
challenged. However, in countries where there is no competition law, the benefits of trade
liberalization could be lost through such anti-competitive conduct.
It is increasingly clear that anti-competitive practices, both domestic and cross-border, impair
the process of development in developing countries more significantly than has previously been
thought. This is true for at least four reasons. Firstly, given their narrow domestic industrial base,
developing countries have to rely on imports of intermediate goods. To the extent that such
intermediate goods are subject to anti-competitive practices – either within national borders (for
example through restraints on distribution channels) or by the foreign suppliers of these imports (for
example, an export or international cartel) – the developing country in question will be penalized by
higher prices for both the intermediate goods and the goods for which they are used as production
inputs. In a number of papers, UNCTAD has documented the extent to which international cartels still
operate in markets where developing countries have to import a lot, including in markets for
intermediate goods. There is also increasing concern that the agricultural exports and imports of LDCs
are dominated by small numbers of traders, facilitating cartelization or collective abuses of dominance
which would lead to higher import prices or reduce the benefits from exports.
Secondly, to achieve their developmental goals, developing countries need to rely on export-
oriented strategies. However, the gains expected to arise from liberalized market-access conditions at a
multilateral level or through preferential schemes will be severely limited if private anti-competitive
practices are still in place.
Thirdly, foreign firms feel freer to engage in across-the-border anti-competitive behaviour
when the countries to which they export do not have a domestic competition law, and can neither
individually nor through cooperation with foreign competition authorities challenge the market
behaviour of the firm. Thus, countries that do not have a domestic competition law will be the prime
victims of international anti-competitive practices. Even where such laws have been adopted, taking
enforcement action against foreign firms is a daunting task for developing countries which, in many
cases, still need capacity-building assistance to sufficiently establish their competition authorities, as
well as international enforcement cooperation.
Fourthly, effects on trade arise from the conditions under which foreign direct investment is
established and operates. The impact of FDI is not always pro-competitive. Where, as often happens,
FDI takes place through the acquisition by a foreign corporation of a domestic enterprise, or the
establishment of a joint venture between a foreign and a local firm, the foreign investor may gain a
dominant position in the relevant market, enabling it to charge prices above competitive levels but
often temporarily. Another scenario often encountered in developing and transition economies, is
where the affiliates of two transnational corporations (TNCs) compete with each another in a
70 Globalization for Development
particular market and the parent company overseas undertakes the merger. With the affiliates no
longer independent of one another, competition in a host country may be adversely affected, even if
the merger does not significantly affect competition in the markets of the TNCs' home countries. In
both scenarios, the effects would be felt in the domestic markets of the host country as well as on its
international trade since higher prices in the domestic market would encourage imports.
With globalization and technological change, there is a trend towards the establishment of
global production and distribution chains, as well as network-based industries such as in computer
software. There is a danger that such trends – together with recent trends relating to mergers and
acquisition – may be leading to a concentration of market power in a few global enterprises and
reduced competition in the markets involved, thereby facilitating anti-competitive practices. Such anti-
competitive practices may reduce domestic and global efficiency gains as well as the welfare benefits
that should arise from liberalization. They will also adversely affect the trade and development
prospects of developing countries, their enterprises, especially SMEs, and their consumers.
9.2. Effects and implications of the wave of mergers and acquisitions
In recent years, there has been a strong increase in the numbers and transaction value of
mergers and acquisitions across the world, especially within some sectors, such as in the oil and gas,
food, metals and minerals sectors, automobiles and, in particular, in some services sectors such as
financial services (see Table 5). Thus, since widespread deregulation has permitted the integration of
banking, asset management and insurance, the global annual average number of mergers and
acquisitions involving a financial company increased from 954 in the period 1990-1995 to 1556 in
1996-2000, with a slight drop to 1436 in 2001-2003.66 The transaction values of deals in 2005 stood at
US$93.8 billion. In the mining sector, there was a dramatic rise in the number and value of mergers
and acquisitions in 2005 and 2006 (compared to those recorded over the past decade) – amounting to a
transaction value of around US$60 billion by the third quarter of 2006. 67
Such mergers would reduce the number of competing rivals and may thus facilitate anti-
competitive practices (such as abuses of dominance or the formation of cartels), which may adversely
affect developing countries. Risks of cartelization may also be heightened by the enhanced avenues of
communication among firms arising from new technologies and globalization, as well as from the fact
that there is often relatively more frequent contact among multinational firms (compared to other firms)
because they operate in several geographical markets. For example, developing economies are
estimated to have been overcharged between US$12.5 and US$25 billion for several products which
were the subject of international cartels during the period 1990-1995.68 Moreover, evidence confirms
that cartels with multi-continental effects raise prices higher than other types of international cartels
and that, despite evident increases in cartel detection rates and the size of monetary fines and penalties
in the past decade, a good case can be made that current global anti-cartel regimes are not sufficiently
robust and are not serving as a deterrent.69
See Dario Focarelli, Alberto Pozzolo (2007), “Cross-Border Mergers and Acquisitions in the Financial Sector:
Is Banking Different from Insurance?” in Economics and Statistics Discussion Paper No. 32/07.
UNCTAD, Cross-border Mergers & Acquisitions database. Available from www.unctad/org/fdistatistics.
UNCTAD (2003). Can Developing Economies Benefit From WTO Negotiations On Binding Disciplines For
Hard Core Cartels? (UNCTAD/DITC/CLP/2003/3).
See J. M. Connor (2007). “Price-fixing Overcharges: Legal and Economic Evidence”, in Research in Law and
Economics, Volume 22, 2007, pps 59-153.
Chapter X 71
Cross-border merger-and-acquisitions sales, by sector/industry of seller (millions of dollars)
First half Total First half Total
Total industry 380 598 254 413 716 302 377 309 880 457
Primary 19 414 11 103 115 420 18 425 86 133
Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing 1 245 1 611 1 824 2 132 2 191
Mining, quarrying and petroleum 18 169 9 492 113 596 16 293 83 942
Secondary 120 747 89 693 203 730 89 796 274 407
Food, beverages and tobacco 23 870 17 240 44 816 13 437 24 878
Textile, clothing and leather 1 585 917 2 133 2 903 3 549
Wood and wood products 3 769 2 923 5 280 1 259 5 696
Wood Products, Furniture, and Fixtures 833 2 483 3 273 1 021 2 269
Paper and Allied Products 2 936 440 2 007 238 3 427
Printing, Publishing, and Allied Services 8 965 2 468 9 961 1 553 25 425
Oil and Gas; Petroleum Refining 880 568 1 892 1 187 4 281
Chemicals and chemical products 41 788 20 189 54 438 27 468 59 369
Rubber and Miscellaneous Plastic Products 570 940 2 443 4 749 7 451
Stone, Clay, Glass, and Concrete Products 5 178 3 574 6 915 7 898 9 777
Metal and Metal Products 4 579 15 437 29 460 7 011 48 890
Machinery 6 688 3 110 5 274 3 041 19 164
Electrical and electronic equipment 12 998 6 885 15 055 8 092 39 259
Motor vehicles and other transport equipment 3 639 8 412 11 052 4 906 16 014
Measuring, Medical, Photo Equipment; Clocks 5 871 6 679 13 488 4 807 8 903
Miscellaneous Manufacturing 367 350 1 525 1 486 1 750
Services 240 437 153 617 397 152 269 087 519 918
Electric, Gas, and Water Distribution 24 799 16 073 38 259 6 971 23 253
Construction Firms 3 324 1 978 6 232 9 102 11 402
Hotels and restaurants 4 618 1 370 7 604 22 616 31 968
Trade 26 445 15 163 29 232 10 914 23 105
Transport, storage and communications 36 530 37 835 97 502 92 647 140 913
Finance 81 809 26 880 93 795 55 030 131 615
Business activities 55 261 41 836 93 127 50 540 109 233
Public Administration 18 31 87 90 92
Health and social services 2 726 1 965 6 201 8 692 13 565
Educational Services 79 10 1 499 0 425
Community, social and personal service activities 3 349 10 457 23 415 9 617 30 040
Miscellaneous Services 1 479 20 200 2 868 4 308
Source: UNCTAD, cross-border M&A database, available from www.unctad.org/fdistatistics.
9.3. Fostering an enabling environment: Promoting competition and controlling anti-
Exploiting the opportunities arising from liberalization requires both national competition
policies and international cooperation to deal with both domestic and cross-border anti-competitive
practices, particularly those that hamper trade and investment. Yet there are serious deficits at the
national, regional, and multilateral levels in respect of applicable legal rules and enforcement capacity
(especially in developing countries) for controlling such anti-competitive practices, particularly when
these practices are of a cross-border nature.
One element typically found in competition law is the prohibition of any merger, acquisition,
or takeover which is likely to substantially lessen competition or which leads to the acquisition of a
dominant position in the relevant market. Thus, any adverse consequences of mergers and acquisitions
involving TNCs, for instance, can be avoided if an effective competition law is in place in the host
72 Globalization for Development
country. As UNCTAD 70 points out, competition law enforcement signals to firms that any inward
investment that is motivated by the pursuit and eventual abuse of a dominant position will be dealt
with severely by competition law. It is also argued that an economy that has implemented an effective
competition law is in a better position to attract foreign direct investment than one that has not. This is
because most TNCs are accustomed to the operation of such a law in their home countries, and know
how to deal with any concerns that the competition authority may raise provided that the competition
authorities act with impartiality in cases involving domestic and foreign firms, as well as between
While it may not be feasible to ban more than a few mergers outright, competition authorities
often impose conditions in return for allowing such mergers. In recent years, in response to the trends
relating to mergers noted above, some developing countries have occasionally examined the domestic
effects of international mergers upon their markets and imposed requirements upon the local
subsidiaries of the companies concerned as a condition for approving such mergers. For instance, as a
condition for approving a merger between two large international shipping companies, the South
African Competition Commission required one of them to divest its assets, rights and obligations in
respect of its liner shipping activities on the South Africa/Europe and South Africa/North America
routes. Moreover, after its investigations, it also shared information with the European Commission,
which also investigated and imposed conditions relating to this merger in respect of EU markets.71
However, there is ample evidence that developing countries face special enforcement difficulties when
addressing anti-competitive practices with international elements.72 It is indeed open to question
whether a developing country’s competition authority ordering the prohibition of a merger between
two global companies in order to prevent anti-competitive effects upon its markets (something which
is sometimes done by developed country competition authorities) will actually be able to enforce it.
Thus, enhanced international cooperation on competition law and policy is also required to
address anti-competitive practices which lead to losses by developing countries. The general
consensus regarding the benefits of competition policy for development led to the unanimous adoption
of the Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive
Business Practices by the General Assembly in 198073 (see Box 16).
Box 16. The UN SET
The UN Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business
Practices was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1980. The Set's continuing validity and the fundamental
role of competition law and policy for sound economic development were re-affirmed by the Fifth UN
Conference to Review All Aspects of the Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the
Control of Restrictive Business Practices. The Conference, held in Antalya, Turkey, in November 2005,
recognized the positive contribution made by the Set – and by UNCTAD – to the promotion of competition
policy as a tool for assuring successful economic reform conducive to sustainable development, and the need to
further promote the Set's implementation (TD/RBP/CONF.6/14). Both Fifth Review Conference and the São
Paulo Consensus recognized the importance of the role of competition policy in promoting competitiveness,
building entrepreneurship, facilitating market access and entry, enhancing the equity of the international trading
system, as well as ensuring that trade liberalization brings about development gains.
Since the Set's adoption, there has been a universal trend towards the adoption, reform and the
enhanced application of national competition laws and policies. There has also been a substantial
UNCTAD World Investment Report 1997: Transnational Corporations, Market Structure and
Competition Policy, (UNCTAD/ITE/IIT/5).
71 See UNCTAD, Recent Important Cases Involving More Than One Country,
See for example UNCTAD, Experiences Gained So Far On International Cooperation On Competition Policy
Issues and the Mechanisms Used (TD/B/COM.2/CLP/21/Rev.5) and Ways in Which Possible International
Agreements on Competition Might Apply To Developing Countries (TD/B/COM.2/CLP/46/Rev.3).
G A resolution 35/63 of 5 December 1980
Chapter X 73
increase in international cooperation in this area, resulting in relevant bilateral and regional
agreements. Of the approximately 300 RTAs which are in force or under negotiation, over a 100
contain competition-policy related provisions. Yet much remains to be done to help ensure that anti-
competitive practices do not impede or negate the realization of the development benefits arising from
liberalization in globalized markets. The objective of such action should be to facilitate stronger
international cooperation. This should include: the identification of how competition rules in bilateral
and regional agreements might be developed further, and better cater for developing country
specificities, and how they can be more fully implemented. It should also work towards strengthening
the consistency and coordination between national action and international cooperation in the area of
competition law and policy.
Global coherence in dealing with anti-competitive practices, particularly those affecting more
than one country, would also require addressing the following:
a) international mergers and market concentration, abuses of dominance and export and
international cartels affecting developing country markets and their effective market entry
b) enhancement of legislation and institutions for implementing competition law and policy;
c) coherence between competition policy and other policies, including possibilities for
cooperation between competition and trade authorities;
d) exchange of experiences and best practices, networking, provision of capacity-building to
competition agencies in developing countries and voluntary convergence on standards and
e) strengthening of consultations, exchange of information and cooperation in the
competition area at the regional and multilateral levels; and
f) preferential or differential treatment for developing countries.
74 Globalization for Development
AID FOR TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT – BUILDING CAPACITY
10.1. Meeting adjustment costs and building productive capacities
The Aid for Trade (AfT) initiative is an essential complement to trade liberalization in the
international trading system. It is necessary both in realizing potential gains and in mitigating the costs
of trade liberalization, whether multilateral, bilateral or unilateral. There is general agreement also that
the AfT initiative should not become a substitute for a development outcome to the Doha Round, but
should rather complement to it. The need to help developing countries and LDCs build competitive
supply capacities, make better use of market access opportunities, and diversify their exports has long
been recognized as being part of a long-term development strategy in which trade operates as an
effective engine of growth, development and poverty reduction. However, there is also an important
immediate need to help developing countries cope with the trade shocks associated with liberalization
as well as the difficult transition into a more liberalized global trading environment. Thus, adjustment
assistance is indispensable, particularly when countries lack their own social safety nets. The AfT
initiative is thus novel in the sense of responding specifically to trade liberalization under the WTO, as
well as a long-awaited response to the need to generally provide trade-related assistance and support to
developing countries to build up their trade capacities to participate effectively and benefit from
Trade-related adjustment costs cover a wide range of issues but primarily include those
relating to preference erosion which particularly affects countries dependent on textiles and clothing
and agricultural commodity exports. Other adjustments needing assistance include the loss of revenues
from trade taxes; increases in food prices for net food-importing countries; shortfalls in export
earnings; and other social costs such as the loss of jobs/livelihood activities due to the contraction of
import-competing sectors and/or export sectors faced with the loss of trade preferences.
Another category of costs that require AfT assistance are those associated with compliance to
the commitments, rules and standards of the international trading system. Such costs include those
incurred in the process of setting up domestic regulatory mechanisms and institutional frameworks to
support the liberalization of services; the implementation of a new agreement on trade facilitation; the
creation of standard-setting institutions, certification agencies and testing laboratories; and compliance
with the TRIPS Agreement.
Because of inadequate trade-related infrastructure and supply-side capabilities, many low-
income countries need to make substantial investments in these areas before they will be able to take
full advantage of market access opportunities. Trade-related infrastructures include both physical
infrastructure (such as roads, ports, storage facilities, telecommunication systems, energy and
electricity, transport systems, and water supply and sanitation), as well as institutional infrastructure,
such as an efficient banking and financing system, business services and other trade support
institutions. This involves focusing attention on developing competitive services sectors.
The strengthening of supply-side capacities also calls for strategically targeting support at the
enterprise and producer levels. This involves support to enhance entrepreneurship and enterprise
development, the upgrading of skills as well as technology absorption and innovation. All these are
aimed at strengthening export production capabilities and competitiveness, building trade facilitation
capacities, and facilitating entry into new markets (market diversification) and a more beneficial
participation in global supply chains.
10.2. Fostering an enabling environment: Implementing the Aid for Trade initiative
Although the concept of the AfT initiative has been accepted as a necessary systemic response
to trade marginalization, it still needs to be operationalized. It will assist the implementation of new
76 Globalization for Development
Doha Round agreements; help ease adjustment costs to economic reforms; and facilitate the utilization
of new market access. It is urgent that the mechanism be supported with substantial resources that
should be additional to development aid, without being unpredictable and/or debt creating.74
The recommendations of the WTO Task Force on AfT provide a framework for transforming
the commitments of the Aid-for-Trade initiative into action (see Box 17). The Task Force affirmed
that the effectiveness of its recommendations for operationalizing AfT requires substantial additional
targeted resources for trade-related programmes and projects, as pledged at the WTO's Hong Kong
Ministerial Conference. During the conference Japan announced that its development assistance
spending on trade, production, and distribution infrastructure would be increased to US$10 billion
over three years; the United States announced AfT grants of US$2.7 billion a year by 2010; and the
EU and its member States announced trade-related development assistance spending of €2 billion per
year by 2010. At St. Petersburg G( summit in 2006, the G8 leaders expressed their expectation that
AfT funding would rise to US$4 billion by 2010.
Moreover, the broader international commitment at the International Conference on Financing
and Development in Monterrey (2002), as well as the G8 summits in Gleneagles (2005) and St.
Petersburg (2006), promised to significantly scale up development assistance by 2010. The OECD
estimates that these commitments entail an increase in ODA, which will include assistance for trade,
by about US$50 billion per year by 2010.
Box 17. Some key recommendations of the WTO AfT Task Force
The WTO Task Force has recommended that: ‘Projects and programmes should be considered as Aid for Trade
if these activities have been identified as trade-related development priorities in the recipient country's national
development strategies.’* For monitoring purposes, the task force suggested six categories for reporting AfT-
(a) Trade policy and regulations, including: the training of trade officials, the analysis of proposals and
positions and their impact, support for national stakeholders to articulate commercial interest and
identify trade-offs, dispute issues, institutional and technical support to facilitate the implementation of
trade agreements, and to adapt to and comply with rules and standards.
(b) Trade development, including: investment promotion, analysis and institutional support for trade in
services, business support services and institutions, public-private sector networking, e-commerce, trade
finance, trade promotion, market analysis and development.
(c) Trade-related infrastructure, including: physical infrastructure.
(d) Building productive capacity.
(e) Trade-related adjustment, including: supporting developing countries to put in place accompanying
measures that assist them to benefit from liberalized trade.
(f) Other trade-related needs.
* WTO, Recommendations of the Task Force on Aid for Trade (WT/AFT/1).
The delivery channels for AfT are also important. The multilateral versus exclusively bilateral
channelling of AfT funding is an important issue, involving predictability and effectiveness in dealing
with some of the challenges and gaps in current AfT identified by the Task Force. Accordingly, the
Task Force has recommended that donors should ‘consider channelling Aid-for-Trade funds
multilaterally, when appropriate’. The provision of AfT through global programmes – such as those
currently provided by international organizations such as UNCTAD – should be an avenue for
delivering trade-related assistance (public goods) for the benefit of all countries. In this context, the
assistance expected under the AfT initiative should not replace existing operational mechanisms which
are already delivering trade-related assistance through the UN agencies at the global level.
Ideas on UN’s support to aid for trade is provided for example in the summary of discussions of the “Pre-
conference event: Aid for Trade and development: towards a new global solidarity initiative, Bangkok, 24–25
January 2008” (TD/429).
Chapter XI 77
In this context, it is worth considering the experience of the Integrated Framework for LDCs
(IF). In existence since 1997, it is an important instrument for delivering the Aid for Trade initiative to
LDCs. The IF experience has shown that assessing needs and setting priorities at the country level can
be time-consuming (taking up to two or more years); that country ownership is weak when there is
uncertainty or lack of funding at the end of the process; and that in a system with diffused
responsibility for management and implementation (‘everyone, yet no one is responsible’),
implementation will be weak and programme objectives will not be met.75 Because of this experience,
IF stakeholders (which include donors and recipient countries as well as the six core agencies – IMF,
ITC, UNCTAD, UNDP, World Bank and WTO) have agreed to implement an enhanced facility (the
Enhanced IF). The Enhanced IF will have a full-fledged multilateral institutional, managerial and
governance structure, and increased predictable financial resources (although still modest – an
increase from US$1- $8 million in grants per LDC) to support the implementation of priority projects
and actions. This is, perhaps, an experience worth building on for the larger AfT effort.
For their part, the prospective beneficiaries of AfT would have to specifically and strongly
mainstream trade into national development policies and plans. The prioritization of trade in
development is critical to evolving the commitment of stakeholder Governments to trade and to
implementing trade-enhancing programmes. Without a counterpart reflection in a national framework,
AfT will have limited impact. The WTO Task Force also recommended that developing countries
should therefore consider and set up national and regional aid for trade committees to identify their
needs. These could be new multi-stakeholder consultative bodies comprising the trade policy
community, or they could be existing trade consultative institutions whose functions could be
expanded to take on the AfT initiative. This is a key first step in benefiting from the AfT initiative.
The first Global Aid-for-Trade Review conducted by the WTO took place on 19 and 20
November 2007. The took stock of what is happening on Aid for Trade; identified what should happen
next; and proposed improvement to WTO monitoring and evaluation. Inputs to the global review came
from the outcomes of three regional events on mobilizing AfT for respectively Latin America and the
Caribbean (Lima, 13-14 September 2007), Asia and the Pacific (Manila, 19-20 September 2007) and
Africa (Dar-es-Salaam, 1-2 October 2007). Information and analyses were also provided in a joint
WTO/OECD report on Aid for Trade at a Glance 2007: 1st Global Review which compiled
information provided by Governments and agencies on their perspectives on and involvement in AfT.
The report on the review to the WTO General Council by the WTO Deputy Director General
Mrs. Valentine Rugwabiza (21 November 2007) highlighted, inter alia, the following consensus: (a)
the importance of country leadership, mainstreaming, setting priorities, and improving regional
approaches; (b) the direct involvement of the private sector is indispensable; (c) the clear need to scale
up the overall ODA envelope – as pledged in Gleneagles and elsewhere – while at the same time
acknowledging that recipient countries had a responsibility for making trade a priority and for
developing viable projects; and (d) that while Aid for Trade is an important complement to trade
opening, especially to a successful Doha Round, it cannot – and should not – be a substitute. In his
report to the WTO General Council also on the periodic work on aid for trade carried out by the WTO
Committee on Trade and Development, the Chairman stressed that “there remains a large knowledge
or understanding "gap" - between the trade and development communities, between partner and donor
countries, and between the various international actors engaged in the delivery of Aid for Trade.
Bridging this gap will be key to harnessing trade for development - whether we call it
"mainstreaming" or "priority setting" or "national vision". This is one of the main benefits that WTO
monitoring through the global review can bring to the AfT initiative and the role that the Committee
on Trade and Development is playing as well.
75 See Report of the Chairman of the Task Force on an Enhanced Integrated Framework, including
78 Globalization for Development
UNCTAD'S ROLE: PROMOTING QUALITATIVE TRADE
A number of emerging trade and development issues have been identified in this report in the
context of the new realities and opportunities created by globalization and the persistent challenges of
poverty and underdevelopment in the world economy. To help developing countries to benefit from
these opportunities, to use trade to meet internationally agreed goals such as the MDGs, as well as to
overcome persistent challenges, UNCTAD’s contribution to maximizing development gains from the
international trading system will be important over the short-to-medium term in the areas of
international trade and trade dynamism, commodities, services, fair competition, South-South trade,
environmental issues linked to trade, and trade and development aspects of energy, labour mobility
and climate change, as well as its contribution to the aid for trade initiative through its trade-related
technical assistance. In this connection for example, UNCTAD member States agreed at the Mid-term
Review of the São Paulo Consensus on several areas in which emphasis should be placed (see Box 18).
Box 18. Mid Term Review of the São Paulo Consensus by the Trade and Development Board: Outcomes
regarding international trade in goods, services and commodities
Member States agreed inter alia that UNCTAD shall, within its mandate, under the São Paulo Consensus,
emphasis the following areas in respect of assuring development gains from the international trading system
and trade negotiations:
(a) Coordination of UN-wide activities on trade and development;
(b) Commodity issues and their integration into national, regional and international development and poverty
(c) Contributing to national, regional and international policy efforts to resolve the trade and development
problems associated with commodity dependence;
(d) Competition law and policy, in accordance with the resolution adopted by the Fifth United Nations
Conference to Review All Aspects of the Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for
the Control of Restrictive Business Practices;
(e) Trade negotiations, issues, capacities and WTO accession and its follow-up, as well as services
development and trade negotiations, with particular emphasis on the strengthening of country ownership
and capacity building in preparing and conducting trade negotiations;
(f) Strengthening the participation of developing countries in new and dynamic sectors of world trade;
(g) Non-tariff barriers (NTBs), including support for the Group of Eminent Persons on Non-Tariff Barriers
established by the Secretary-General of UNCTAD;
(h) Development and dissemination of trade-related databases, and trade and development benchmarks;
(i) Cross-cutting issues of trade, poverty, sustainable employment creation, gender, matters pertaining to
movement of natural persons, and adjustment to trade reform;
(j) New dynamics of world trade which includes facilitating the emergence of new dynamic centres of trade
and growth in the South; monitoring and analysing changing patterns of developing countries’ participation
and share in international trade; identifying success factors, including private-public partnerships, and
disseminating lessons learned; encouraging South-South trade and economic integration; and supporting a
more comprehensive GSTP;
(k) Trade, environment and development issues, the BioTrade Initiative and related partnerships, and the
(l) The development dimension of intellectual property, in close cooperation with relevant organizations;
(m) Aid for Trade, including aid for institutional, regulatory, infrastructural and human resources development
in developing countries;
Source: TD/B(S-XXIII)/7 (Vol. I)
With regards to its research and analysis, UNCTAD monitors trends and systemic
developments. It provides strategic perspective and forecasting as well as simultaneously pointing out
the practical ways and means of ensuring development gains. UNCTAD's work can bring policy issues
80 Globalization for Development
into focus through empirical research, and bring best practices to bear on national policies according to
the individual characteristics of each developing country. It can contribute to national/regional trade
and development strategy setting, including through multi-stakeholder involvement and consultation,
institution building, and human resource development. It could provide useful analytical inputs
through policy and sector-specific reviews such as the trade and environment reviews, voluntary
competition policy peer reviews, and reviews of new and dynamic sectors. Such reviews can be
considered further through, for example, multi-year expert discussions to more systematically identify
‘pragmatic solutions’ at the national, regional and international levels. This will, in turn, help enhance
the enabling environment for development at the national level in terms of public policies and
measures as well as corporate policies and practices. Most of all, as the the focal point in the UN
System for the integrated treatment of trade and development, UNCTAD can, through its analytical
work and consensus-building work, contribute to ideas and norm-setting at the international level in a
way that promotes the best possible global governance, coherence, and solidarity for development.
Technical cooperation and capacity-building is the practical and concrete manifestation of
policy conclusions and options of intergovernmental deliberations, and ahead-of-the-curve thinking
and analyses. UNCTAD’s technical assistance on international trade and commodities is being
adapted to the new UNCTAD-wide approach of thematic clusters of technical assistance as
recommended by UNCTAD member States. This will enable UNCTAD to have a significant impact
on development in developing countries, and play a proactive role in the ‘one UN’ system of
operational support at the country level.
Inter-agency cooperation, including within the UN System, and partnerships between civil
society and the private sector on trade development is being pursued and expanded. These provide
practical means through which common development objectives can be achieved by putting together
the expertise and resources of partners. UNCTAD’s range of trade-related partnerships, including both
project-based and research-oriented ones, can be strengthened.76
11.2. Facilitating beneficial integration into the international trading system
UNCTAD monitors and assesses the evolution of the international trading system and its
development impacts; multilateral, regional and bilateral negotiations and capacity-building; WTO
accession; the trade impact of non-tariff measures (NTBs); and the Doha Round negotiations and the
international trading system generally – all from a development perspective. It endeavours to ensure
coherence and interface between regional trade agreements and the multilateral trading system;
strengthening the participation of developing countries in the new and dynamic sectors of world trade;
and improving trade and development analytical tools such as the Trade and Development Index.
UNCTAD's key contribution lies in rigorously upholding the MDG goal of an open, equitable,
rule-based, predictable, and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system. This has been instrumental
in monitoring the international trading system, and assessing to what extent the development
dimension has been achieved generally and specifically in the WTO, especially in the Doha Round.
UNCTAD has provides support (including analysis) to intergovernmental deliberations including the
Trade and Development Board and the UN General Assembly. Its capacity-building assistance at the
national, regional and international levels helps promote awareness on the contribution of trade the
realization of the MDGs specifically in the area of the Doha negotiations. It also builds up the human,
institutional and regulatory capacities of developing countries relevant to engaging in the multilateral
trading system; promotes the greater utilization of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and
other trade preferences (like AGOA and EBA); and assesses the implications of preference erosion.
UNCTAD helps to enhance the understanding of and active participation in multilateral and regional
For a glance of UNCTAD’s rich work on trade in goods, services and commodities, see for example the DITC
Activity Report 2006 (UNCTAD/DITC/MISC/2006/14).
Chapter XI 81
trade negotiations by developing countries and contributes to clarifying the interface between
multilateral and regional trade to ensure coherence and mutual supportiveness.
UNCTAD implements global, regional and country-specific assessments of the development
impact of WTO Agreements and the Doha negotiations in developing countries. It strengthens the
capacity of countries to understand, manage and participate in the complex and demanding WTO
accession process in a sustained manner, helping them in reflecting their national development
priorities. UNCTAD’s support for all the stages of the WTO accession process – including the post-
accession phase – is particularly intensive and wide-ranging. A recent evaluation of its work on the
accession process has found its support as being ‘very relevant, focused and timely, pro-development
and responsive to the changing needs of the beneficiary countries.’ 77
Trade-related technical assistance on trade policy and trade negotiations is a growing need for
developing countries in the context of continuing multilateral trade negotiations, the effective
management of the WTO Agreements, and their participation in proliferating RTAs. UNCTAD has
developed useful and tested products in these areas. These include: advice on WTO Doha negotiations
and RTAs; the development of trade in services; regulatory and institutional capacity-building
including in African countries, particularly under the JITAP (Joint ITC/UNCTAD/WTO Integrated
Technical Assistance Programme to African Countries); support in the WTO accession process; help
in ACP-EU negotiations of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs); regional integration in services
trade, such as for SADC; and skills training for trade negotiations. UNCTAD is also provides
assistance on the utilization of the dispute settlement system of the WTO and other trade and
investment agreements. UNCTAD is working in several countries, e.g. in India, over several years to
maximize development gains from globalization especially in pro-poor sectors. Such capacity-building
activities of UNCTAD can be strengthened and successful experiences replicated.
The systematic monitoring, research, and analysis of international trade flows, trends, and
patterns by UNCTAD provide updated information, analyses and data for use in trade policy
formulation, trade negotiations, and business operations globally. The availability of such information
helps in the exploitation of new trading opportunities and in minimizing costs.
A tool in this regard is UNCTAD's Trade and Development Index (TDI). It serves as an
innovative diagnostic and policymaking tool which incorporates the interactions and interdependence
among various factors in the trade and development process that ‘enhance the enabling environment’
for development. TDI analysis support the argument that there is a symbiosis between development-
related structures, policies and processes on the one hand, and trade-related outcomes on the other.
Similarly, trade-related processes and outcomes have an impact on development outcomes. A
continuous refinement of the TDI will be important.
Other key outputs include trade-related analytical, statistical, and information bases and tools
(e.g. TRAINS-WITS) and making available – and increasing the transparency of – measures relating
to trade such as through the recent joint ITC/WTO/UNCTAD World Tariff Profiles 2006 publication,
derived from a common tariffs database.78 UNCTAD also provides systematic assessment on the
evolving trading system, such as with DESA, through the annual World Economic Situation and
Prospects report, and the annual Millennium Development Goals Report. Independent trade policy
assessment in different countries could be undertaken to enhance effective trade policy making.
Priority areas for analyses can include the performance of dynamically growing and trading countries
and the policies they utilize, and global, South-South, and country-level trade activity to assess
UNCTAD (2006). Evaluation of UNCTAD's Trade-related Technical Assistance and Capacity Building on
Accession to the WTO (TD/B/WP/190).
CAMAD (Common Analytical Market Access Database).
82 Globalization for Development
progress, identify the lessons learnt, and highlight best practices – all to be shared with other countries.
These could be discussed at intergovernmental meetings to build consensus on relevant policy options.
UNCTAD is promoting the awareness that effective trade liberalisation for the exports of
developing countries entails more than addressing the question of tariff barriers. It also requires
addressing the more intractable market entry barriers of non-tariff barriers (NTBs), product standards,
and product quality requirements. UNCTAD is helping to identify, classify, and quantify these NTBs.
UNCTAD also promotes stakeholder partnerships in addressing them, especially through the
Secretary-General of UNCTAD's Group of Eminent Persons on NTBs and its multi-agency task force.
During the process of trade liberalization and reform, developing countries face important
implementation, adaptation, and adjustment costs. UNCTAD conducts analyses on such costs and how
they need to be factored into the liberalization and reform agendas at the national, regional and
international levels. It is also helps developing countries create and strengthen supporting institutional
and infrastructural capacities to respond to these costs and take advantage of new trading opportunities.
For example, UNCTAD is assisting developing countries to better assess the possible implications of
coping with WTO negotiations on industrial products.
Strengthening the participation of developing countries in the dynamic new sectors of world
production and trade is needed to positively enhance the integration of developing countries into the
international trading system. UNCTAD is contributing through intergovernmental reviews of these
sectors,79 backed by practical, on-the-ground technical assistance and capacity-building initiatives. In
this respect, public-private partnerships can be useful vehicles. A trend-setting example is an
UNCTAD-Philips initiative on the electronic/electrical sector in Southern Africa. Another example is
the recent adoption of an UNCTAD-architectured regional standard for organic agriculture in East
Africa: a highly desirable avenue for export promotion in a sector that is not only very dynamic (15
per cent average annual growth in the last 10 years) but is also very beneficial developmentally in
terms of the economy, ecology, poverty alleviation among small farmers (who tend to become
marginalized in conventional agricultural supply chains), and the social fabric in general.
Promoting awareness of the interface between trade and the achievement of MDGs generally
and in specific areas such as poverty reduction and gender empowerment remains a priority of
UNCTAD. Such awareness can lead to the identification and implementation of trade policy
measures, liberalization practices and capacity-building programmes at international and
national level that best promote poverty-sensitive and gender-sensitive trading and help realize pro-
poor trade growth, globalization and development. UNCTAD conducts analyses of trade and
poverty and trade and gender (such as in African and India) which can set the basis for further detail
analysis and deliberations. UNCTAD also develops and implements global, regional and
national programmes, with the support of the international donor community, that help
developing countries to enhance their preparedness and strategies for pro-poor and gender
sensitive trade growth and globalization.
11.3. Sustaining the ascent of the South and South-South trade
South-South trade – be it intra-regional or inter-regional – is taking quantum leaps, and fast
accounting for half the world trade of developing countries. The new drivers of the South and their
enterprises are at the forefronts of the revival in South-South trade, investment and economic
cooperation. This has resulted in a new reality in South-South trade and a stronger and broader
economic cooperation among developing countries. UNCTAD can contribute to facilitating and
Sectors already covered include energy, electronics, fish and fishery products, steel and related specialty
products, IT–enabled outsourcing of services, renewable energy technologies and products, biofuels and textiles
Chapter XI 83
consolidating the ascent of the dynamic South in which many developing countries are gradually
moving from the periphery to the centre and from dependence to interdependence. As this can result in
a positive sum gain for all countries, this trend is to be encouraged, replicated and deepened within
and across countries and continents. At the same time, as the more successful developing countries
climb the ladder, they need to also help pave the way for others to follow. New models and prospects
have created opportunities for ‘development-transmitting’" trade and investment relationships within
the South. With UNCTAD support these can be identified and promoted.
UNCTAD identifies ways of harnessing the increased potential for South-South cooperation
in trade, investment and knowledge transfers. It can foster new ECDC (economic cooperation among
developing countries) models including for bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral partnerships; help
build new dialogues among the institutions of the South for the South, including through triangular
cooperation; and strengthen and set up South-South institutions, networking platforms and
partnerships on trade, investment, finance, R&D, enterprise development, technical cooperation, and
trade and transport infrastructure. For example, UNCTAD has facilitated the creation and entry into
operation of the Global Network of EXIM Banks and Development Finance Institutions to foster
South-South trade through financing. Such efforts can complement North-South trade and
Systematic monitoring as well as research and analysis of South-South trade flows is
important to identify lessons and best practices that can contribute to the replication of positive
development experiences and sustain further development of such trade. The development of a South-
South trade information system by UNCTAD is useful in this regard. UNCTAD has also launched an
initiative to encourage networking among the RTAs of developing countries through the sharing of
experiences on positive development instruments for regional integration. This initiative can be
consolidated to provide a forum for the regular exchange of experiences among RTAs.
The continued servicing of the GSTP Agreement and its third round of negotiations by
UNCTAD remain central to its work on South-South trade. For sustaining South-South trade, it is
important to conclude the third round of GSTP negotiations.
The further development of the RTAs of developing countries into effective instruments for
trade integration and regional development is important. As UNCTAD´s Trade and Development
Report 2007 points out, South-South RTAs have a positive impact on trade and development for the
countries concerned. They help to improve infrastructure linkages, competitiveness, and value chain
participation, as well as spurring FDI. South-South trade in services – especially intraregional trade
through regional trade agreements – has to be fully exploited. UNCTAD is conducting pioneering
work in this regard – for example with SADC to develop a regional services agreement based on in-
depth services assessment and negotiations.
Since its creation in 1964, UNCTAD supports ECDC as an essential complement to national
development strategies. Over the years, the various facets of ECDC have evolved and now, with the
rise of the dynamic South combined with market-driven South-South trade and investment expansion,
it is an opportune to examine ways in which ECDC can be strengthened. Given its traditional and
longstanding expertise in this field, UNCTAD is well placed to ensure that ECDC becomes a catalytic
force for the growth and development of developing countries.
11.4. Re-launching the commodity agenda
With respect to commodity issues, UNCTAD has traditionally been at the forefront of
international efforts to transform the commodity problematic into a commodity boon. With the recent
rise in commodity prices and the probability that such trends will be sustained in the medium term
(especially with trade-driven globalization fuelling the hunt and competition for natural resources),
this is a timely opportunity to re-launch the commodity agenda, with UNCTAD playing a catalytic
84 Globalization for Development
role. A key aspect of this agenda has to include support in managing windfall revenues, for commodity
producing and dependent developing countries, especially in Africa and LDCs, that benefit from the
boom in the prices of their agriculture, minerals and metals, oil and gas and energy exports.
Addressing the links between international commodity trade and national development, particularly
poverty reduction, is being mainstreamed by UNCTAD.
UNCTAD monitors developments in commodity markets and assists developing countries –
in particular those most dependent on commodities – in formulating strategies and policies that
respond to the challenges of commodity markets, including that of over-supply. It can further facilitate
the exploitation of growing opportunities (including in new areas such as biofuels) for commodity-
dependent countries. It will also have to contribute to national, regional and international policy efforts
to reduce commodity dependence and to diversify into high-value and dynamically growing products.
It supports the efforts of commodity-dependent developing countries to diversify their production,
address the high volatility of prices of especially agricultural products, develop new generation of
commodity financing schemes (including commodity exchanges), and strengthening participation in
the global supply value chain. UNCTAD assists in particular small and poor commodity producers to
become competitiveness, meet standards, access commodity information and databases, provide value
addition, and reach global markets. It can help mobilize increased flows of development assistance to
commodity dependent developing countries, including through the aid for trade initiative.
UNCTAD promotes intergovernmental cooperation on commodities, such as assistance to and
cooperation with International Commodity Bodies. It can continue to build effective partnerships
among stakeholders aiming at sustainable approaches to commodity problems. These should include
fostering public-private cooperation in commodity chains with a view to ensuring, inter alia through
market-based principles, a more equitable distribution of revenues and benefits along the supply chain
and supporting diversification. Contributing to the implementation of the Global Initiative on
Commodities constitutes one set of activities for re-launching the commodities agenda via a network
of cooperation among international agencies.
11.5. Developing services economy and trade
Services constitute the new frontier of international trade. UNCTAD conducts national
assessments and policy reviews of services; supports multilateral and regional negotiations on services;
strengthen services data and statistics; promotes strategies and regulatory frameworks for the
development of a competitive service supply capacity (particularly infrastructural services); provides
analyses of regional services liberalization, regulatory frameworks and cooperative mechanism on
services; and supports South-South negotiations of services agreements and cooperation in services.
Comprehensive national assessments and policy reviews of services as well as of trade in
services have a central role to play in assisting developing countries, together with support from the
international community, to effectively integrate into the services economy. These reviews will enable
countries to appropriately pace and sequence the policy reforms which affect the services sectors.
UNCTAD can provide such policy reviews, and facilitate regular intergovernmental deliberations and
consensus-building on best practices, lessons learnt, and policy options for the development of
services. Follow-up capacity-building support in countries and regional groupings will play an
important role in developing and implementing services agreements, putting in place regulatory
regimes, and developing competitive services supply capacities. At the same time, the human and
social development implications of the service economy have to be addressed in terms of universal
access to essential services such as education, energy, health, water, and telecommunications.
UNCTAD has integrated such concerns into its work in the services sector.
UNCTAD plays a unique role in raising awareness of the key contribution of services to
development, as well as clarifying and improving the understanding of the services paradigm. It has
conducted sectoral studies and intergovernmental expert meetings on over 13 services sectors. These
Chapter XI 85
include distribution, insurance, audiovisual, logistics, tourism, air transport, environment, energy,
professional and construction and financial services, as well as universal access to essential and
infrastructural services and Mode 4 of GATS. UNCTAD also assistsdeveloping countries in
undertaking the national assessment of their own services sectors. These have enabled them to put in
place specific strategies and policies to increase supply capacity and trade. Lack of data and
disaggregated statistics are major challenges while undertaking services assessment, devising
appropriate policies and regulatory frameworks. UNCTAD is helping in this regard by improving data
and statistics in the services sector.
11.6. Unleashing the development potential of labour mobility
UNCTAD actively promotes the integration of labour flows in national and international
development strategies, especially in areas such as domestic regulation, mutual recognition
agreements, migration, and gender. It promotes the temporary movement of workers and the trade in
skills, while keeping in sight the many related social, economic, cultural and political dimensions.
UNCTAD’s analysis regarding labour mobility, growth and development focuses on the economic
(trade and development) causes and consequences of migration, the imperatives of labour integration
and mobility, and the identification of appropriate regulatory frameworks to enhance the benefits and
mitigate the downside for both sending and receiving countries. UNCTAD's advocacy and approach is
based on the premise that it will be a win-win situation for both the countries of origin and destination
when labour movements occur in response economic forces. Indeed, freer movements of labour will
benefit the global economy as a whole if the integration is managed in an enlightened and cooperative
manner, in the spirit of pragmatism and realism, and without political or cultural prejudice.
UNCTAD’s work on the different trade-related facets of labour mobility and integration
assists in clarifying issues that lie at the interface of trade, migration and globalization can better equip
policymakers everywhere to address these issues. It can also help shape public opinion towards a
greater understanding of the balance of benefits accruing from the integration of the labour market.
UNCTAD also advances such win-win strategies on labour flows through its active membership of the
Global Migration Group (GMG).
11.7. Promoting energy trade and security
Regarding energy, trade and development, UNCTAD analyses and suggest ways of providing
for the growing demand for energy, particularly in the context of how to sustain the development
process in developing countries, especially LDCs. It takes into account technologically and
economically feasible alternative energy sources (biofuels, solar and wind); regional initiatives on
energy; possible energy efficiency measures; as well as identification of regulatory and trade issues
including capacity-building needs to expand capacity and diversify supply.
UNCTAD adopts a holistic approach, helping exporting countries to devise strategies for
fostering the development of the energy sector as an engine for growth and development. For some
countries, this sector generates over 90 per cent of their total revenues and accounts for over 50 per
cent of their GDP. Key development objectives include channelling oil revenues into capital
investments in national and regional infrastructure development and basic services, while avoiding
real exchange rate appreciation, and taking due account of each economy's absorption capacity. Oil-
importing countries could reap great benefits from cooperation, particularly in the procurement field.
Savings can be made from efficient procurement procedures for oil and oil products. Reorganizing the
procurement of small volume imports of petroleum products into bulk procurement, and distributing
these imports to subregions, will generate economies of scale. Sharing storage infrastructures can also
generate savings. However, this requires active cooperation from the governments involved.
In Africa, UNCTAD convenes the Africa Oil, Gas, Trade and Finance Conference on an
annual basis. The 11th Conference held in Kenya in May 2007 brought together Ministers and senior-
86 Globalization for Development
level executives from the oil, gas and finance sectors. It provided a meeting place for investors
concerned with opportunities and developments in the African energy sector. In this context also, a
pre-event to UNCTAD XII, an India-Africa Hydrocarbon Conference & Exhibition, was convened for
the first time in New Delhi from 6-7 November 2007. It was jointly organized by the Ministry of
Petroleum & Natural Gas of India, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and
UNCTAD. Deliberations at the event resulted in the identification of a framework for cooperation and
partnership at different levels in the hydrocarbon sector between India and Africa.80
Among the products emerging from the search of a new economic model based on low-carbon
emissions are biofuels – a sector that has experienced considerable development over the past decade.
To ensure that engaging in the production/use of biofuels yields positive environmental and
development results, Governments have to take crucial decisions and develop appropriate strategies.
These will include deciding whether the production of biofuels is intended for transportation, or for
broader energy replacement; what the land requirements are; and which conversion technology is
desirable. The economic and environmental impacts, the compatibility of biofuels with existing fuel
delivery/use infrastructures, and competing uses for biomass also have to be assessed. UNCTAD
assists countries in implementing country-based assessments of the feasibility of engaging in the
production of biofuels, and in setting up the required domestic frameworks. UNCTAD’s Biofuels
Initiative is working in this area. It has conducted such assessments for several countries. It focuses on
sound economic, legal, and trade policy analysis, capacity-building activities, and consensus-building
tools. It provides lessons learnt from successful cases, and illustrates the problems encountered by
developed and developing countries alike while dealing with the technical, policy, and economic
aspects of biofuels development. It is working closely with other intergovernmental organizations,
civil society, academia, and the private sector.
Also, UNCTAD and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) have
pooled their efforts to promote the financing of the production of biofuels and the development of
Jatropha plantations in Africa, drawing upon the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto
Protocol. This initiative – the first of its kind – involves creating a fund to finance the agricultural and
industrial production of biofuels in Africa. The main objective is to promote investments in the
biofuels supply chain, including a window for financing R&D and capacity-building.81
11.8. Addressing trade and development aspects of trade and environment
UNCTAD assists developing countries in identifying and addressing issues arising at the
interface of trade, environment, and development.
UNCTAD has been working in the areas of trade and climate change, particularly in the
assessment of the potential for biofuels production in developing countries, as well as in the growing
biotrade market opportunities for biodiversity products and services. In this light, the growing national
and international commitment towards more stringent policies for addressing climate change enhances
UNCTAD potential contribution in this area on trade and development aspects, especially: (a) aspects
of trade competitiveness related to climate change policies designed to influence process and
production methods, in particular changes in the fossil fuel energy content in tradable goods; (b) trade
and investment opportunities from climate change measures; (c) investment promotion in climate-
friendly production and trade in developing countries under the Clean Development Mechanism of the
Kyoto Protocol; and (d) compatibility issues between climate policy and trade rules (the existing
potential for conflict could be avoided through early mutual recognition).
See “Outcome of the India-Africa Hydrocarbon Conference and Exhibition” (TD/418).
A first step in this direction will be an EBID-financed project for the production of biodiesel in Ghana, at a
cost of US$35 million, in conjunction with Ghanaian commercial banks and other financial institutions.
Chapter XI 87
Launched in 1998, UNCTAD's BioTrade initiative is a useful tool to help develop the niche
market for biodiversity products and services. A considerable number of these biodiversity-based
products, developed sustainably by SMEs in developing countries, are entering the main export
markets. These are increasingly recognizing and demanding respect for species and ecosystems as well
as consistency with sustainable production practices. UNCTAD’s work towards consolidating the
business case for greater market access for sustainably produced biodiversity products is timely.
Moreover, greater demand also entails an increasing need to support these typically small businesses
in their institutional and entrepreneurial capacity, as well as in their access to good manufacturing and
agricultural practices. Many small and large producers lack methodologies and tools that would allow
the differentiation of their products in the market. Likewise, a growing number of cosmetics and
pharmaceutical industries seek effective tools to validate their sustainable development claims.
The trade of developing countries is increasingly impacted by health, safety and
environmental requirements applied by governments or the private sector and NGOs in a mandatory or
voluntary way. UNCTAD is helping countries to address such obstacles. It launched several specific
initiatives that analyse EHFSRs, and provide capacity-building support to interested developing
countries in addressing these daunting challenges. UNCTAD's Consultative Task Force on
Environmental Requirements and Market Access for Developing Countries supports the designing of
appropriate proactive adjustment strategies to address new EHFSRs. UNCTAD addresses the
difficulties that developing countries have in: (a) monitoring and approaching changes on standards
and market access; (b) evaluating their likely impact; and (c) knowing where to go for help in building
the capacity to respond in a timely and appropriate fashion. UNCTAD's Consultative Task Force also
assists developing countries in their engagement in WTO discussions relating to salient issues of
private sector standards and WTO disciplines. The results of such analytical work and stakeholder
dialogue have already been presented at various WTO TBT, SPS and CTE meetings.82 The results
should also in the longer term contribute towards more inclusiveness, transparency, and
appropriateness in private sector standard-setting and its implementation in developing countries, as
well as to sound approaches to adjustment at the national level.
Over several years, the UNCTAD-UNEP Capacity-building Task Force on Trade,
Environment and Development (CBTF) conducted a series of activities to promote the production and
export of organic agricultural products in several developing regions. In East Africa, this work
culminated in the creation of an East African Organic Products Standard. In its third cycle (2008-
2010), the CBTF focuses on supporting developing countries in seizing economic, social, and
environmental win-win opportunities resulting from the new environmental requirements in export
markets. Particular emphasis is placed on ‘front-of-pipe’ approaches that seize opportunities in new
export markets for environmentally preferable goods. This work includes normative work on creating
regional standards (e.g., for organic agricultural products in developing countries) that facilitate
regional trade and access to overseas export markets.
Environmental issues are likely to become more prominent at the WTO and in regional and
bilateral trade agreements. This will take place through avenues such as the accelerated liberalization
of environmental goods and services, challenges to environmentally-related domestic legislation, and
the clarification of the relationship between trade rules and environmental agreements. UNCTAD has
a key role to play in ensuring that developing countries are able to identify their interests and
effectively pursue them in international policymaking fora. UNCTAD's contribution in providing
substantive support to the negotiations on environmental goods and services in these negotiations is
important as it brings in the development perspective. UNCTAD’s Trade and Environment Review
2008 is devoted to a detailed examination of the scope for and implications of environmental goods
and services liberalization, with particular emphasis on the interface between trade, climate change
On 25 June 2007, for instance, UNCTAD and the WTO jointly organized an informal information seminar on
private standards on the sidelines of the regular summer session of the SPS Committee. More information on the
meeting is available at: http://www.unctad.org/trade_env/meeting.asp?MeetingID=229.
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and development. The Trade and Environment Review series aims to enhance understanding of and
promote dialogue on the development dimension of key trade and environment issues.
Harnessing knowledge for development has a crucial trade and environment dimension in
terms of traditional knowledge, innovations and practices associated with genetic resources. UNCTAD
assists developing countries and can help the international community in addressing issues related to
promoting, protecting and preserving traditional knowledge.
11.9. Ensuring fair competition
A major challenge faced by developing countries is the increased concentration of market
power within many sectors of global production and trade, such as some products within agro-industry,
electronics, pharmaceuticals, tourism, telecoms, energy or financial services. These put developing
country producers, enterprises or consumers at a competitive or bargaining disadvantage. Developing
countries must be enabled to deal with anti-competitive practices or mergers which affect them,
whether encountered within their own territories or on international markets. Stronger multilateral and
regional cooperation in this area is essential. As mandated by the General Assembly, UNCTAD is
playing a unique role in promoting national and regional actions as well as international cooperation in
this area through its work on competition law and policy and consumer interest issues.
UNCTAD services the quinquennial United Nations Conference for the Review of the Set of
Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices
(UN Set). In between the conferences, the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Competition Policy
and Law, a global forum of competition experts, meets annually to discuss competition issues. Since
2005, UNCTAD has instituted and facilitated a voluntary peer review (by selected countries and
regional groupings) of competition policies. A key area of work pertains to technical assistance to
countries and regional groupings in order to formulate, revise, and implement competition policies as
well as build the required institutional enforcement mechanisms. For example, assistance has been
provided for Andean countries through the COMPAL programme, UEMOA countries, and SADC
countries. Many developing countries and countries with economies in transition have benefited from
the unique assistance offered by UNCTAD.
11.10. Implementing the Aid for Trade initiative
UNCTAD's analyses, policy-oriented work, and technical assistance have advanced the notion
that aid for trade, in addition to aid for development, is a necessary prerequisite to improving the
supply capacities and competitiveness of developing countries, as well as enabling them to meet
implementation and adjustment costs arising from trade liberalization. This work underpins
UNCTAD’s efforts to bring the aid for trade initiative into operation and thus contribute the effort by
WTO to implement the initiative. UNCTAD’s contribution to the aid for trade initiative has been
endorsed by the Mid-Term Review of the São Paulo Consensus.
UNCTAD contributes to the Aid for Trade initiative inter alia through examining to the best
strategies needed to deal with capacity constraints and trade adjustments in developing countries. It
has convened brainstorming events on the AfT initiative, held a global conference in March 2006 as a
follow-up to the decision taken at the 6th WTO Ministerial Conference on the subject, and has actively
supported developing countries in responding to the initiative. It has contributed to and participated in
first Global Aid for Trade Review conducted by the WTO. It is a member of the WTO Advisory
Group on Aid for Trade. UNCTAD (in cooperation with other international organizations) continue to
play a role in addressing a number of outstanding issues. These include country eligibility, scope,
ownership, delivery mechanism, monitoring and evaluation, national needs assessment and
prioritisation, trade mainstreaming both by beneficiaries and donors, the brokering and funding of
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programmes, additional funding, as well as implementation mechanisms. Such assistance will help to
build global public good for the service of all countries.
UNCTAD has also gained significant expertise in trade- and development-related technical
assistance. Its technical cooperation programmes can help developing countries to achieve
development gains from the international trading system and trade negotiations.
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Globalization is increasing the integration of national markets and the interdependence of
countries worldwide for a wide range of goods, services, and commodities. Several factors have
engendered such a transition including the liberalization of tariffs and other barriers to trade; foreign
direct investment through trade and investment agreements; autonomous unilateral structural reforms;
technological innovations in transport and communications; international development cooperation;
and the strategic use of policies, experimentation and innovation.
Some developing countries are beginning to realize the prospects of a more beneficial
integration – both quantitative and qualitative – into the global economy and the international trading
system as a result of globalization. For many others, an increased quantitative integration has not had
positive results in terms of poverty reduction, employment or increased welfare. Still others have seen
only partial gains. In LDCs especially, the expected gains of trade-driven globalization are still
missing or insufficient. There is concern that the costs of trade driven globalization maybe
economically, socially, politically, and environmentally unsustainable. A prime concern today for
most policymakers everywhere is how to maximize the development benefits of globalization and
trade, and to minimize their costs.
Assuring development gains from international trade in the context of globalization
necessitates improving the quantitative and qualitative integration of developing countries into the
international trading system and economy. Accelerated economic growth and increased returns from
trade should be channelized into achieving human and social development goals as embodied in
internationally agreed development goals, including in the Millennium Development Goals. Reducing
inequalities and democratizing the trade and development gains within and across countries should
become the essential attributes of the globalizing world.
Efforts to create and sustain an enabling environment to benefit from trade driven
globalization will have to be pursued in the context of an increasingly differentiated trade and
development landscape. The emergence of a dynamic South as an additional (to the North) motor for
world trade and new investment, and an expansion in South-South trade in goods, services and
commodities have emerged as key features of the global economy today. It will also be necessary to
focus on the specific trade and development concerns of countries in special need, such as LDCs,
landlocked countries, and small and vulnerable economies. National, regional, and international trade
and development strategies need to take these specificities as well as the baseline scenarios of such
countries into account whilst adopting an integrated and holistic approach based on common
development denominators. The aid for trade offers a possible mechanism to respond to such concerns.
The conclusion of the Doha Round of trade negotiations with strong development dimension is a key
expectation of countries. Key trade and development issues to be tackled will include the changing
commodity agenda, services trade, fair competition, environmental issues connected with trade, and
the trade and development implications of energy, labour mobility and integration, and climate change.
The international community including the United Nations can contribute to harnessing
globalization for development. In the area of trade, UNCTAD’s work through research and analysis,
technical assistance, and intergovernmental deliberations and consensus building contributes to
making trade and globalization work for successful development.
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