WTO seen from the banks of the Zambezi

A great “report”:http://news.ft.com/cms/s/53fcfb32-65fe-11da-8f40-0000779e2340.html from Alan Beat­tie of the frus­tra­tions of Dipak Patel, the Zam­bian Min­is­ter for Trade, try­ing to man­age the inter­ests of a least-devel­oped African econ­o­my in the glob­al trad­ing sys­tem Beat­tie’ report is full of accu­rate­ly observed detail, not just about the sar­cas­tic Patel’s des­per­ate lack of resources but also about the hope­less­ly thin, often in appro­pri­ate assis­tance that donors offer. The rea­son that NGO’s—often hos­tile to markets—have a big­ger sway on LDC trade pol­i­cy is that they’re bet­ter at mobi­liz­ing and deliv­er­ing sup­port. bq. It is late at night in a bar by the Zam­bezi riv­er when Dipak Patel, trade min­is­ter from the impov­er­ished south­ern African state of Zam­bia, finds the per­fect way to illus­trate how hard his job is. “So how many peo­ple does the Finan­cial Times have cov­er­ing trade?” he says. Well, I say, there’s me (the world trade edi­tor), a reporter in Gene­va who spends most of her time on trade, some­one in Brus­sels, some­one in Wash­ing­ton, and of course our bureau chiefs and reporters around the world spend a fair amount of their time writ­ing about it. “God,” Patel says, con­tem­plat­ing the rows of lux­u­ry cognac bot­tles behind the bar, wait­ing for the rich tourists. “The FT has more capac­i­ty to do trade pol­i­cy than we do.”“Financial Times”:http://news.ft.com/cms/s/53fcfb32-65fe-11da-8f40-0000779e2340.html The whole report is well worth read­ing. My favorite part is Beattie’s account—deadly accu­rate, in my experience—of an LDC Min­is­te­r­i­al Meet­ing in which the par­tic­i­pants, all on a donor-fund­ed jun­ket, com­pete to waste time on seman­tics or resign respon­si­bil­i­ty for deci­sion mak­ing rather than enter the lists of unend­ing, ster­ile, polit­i­cal debate. bq. There is a short debate about includ­ing com­mas around the expres­sion ‘inter alia’. Because of the fran­coph­o­ne African coun­tries present, the com­mu­nique is trans­lat­ed into French and there is a dis­cus­sion about whether the cor­rect inter­pre­ta­tion of ‘mar­ket access’ is “acces sur le marché” or “acces au marché”.

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