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”.
Peter Gallagher is a leading Australian consultant on trade and public policy.[bio].
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