It is the finding of this study that many WTO member countries especially in the Global South are suffering socially and economically due to the discriminatory market protectionist policies instituted by the OECD in the Global North. A removal of these discriminatory policies will surely boost trade and welfare of the Global South nation members. The current social and economic anxiety in the Global South nation member is justified because nothing not much progress is coming from the Doha Round, leave alone trickling to the ground. This study also reveals that the aid for trade initiative by WTO was humble and sensible.
But the efforts have been sabotaged by limited funds that constrain the ability of the member nations to invest and compete in trade. Perhaps this signals a regulation problem to address how losses will be absorbed across the multilateral trading nations. The cost of doing business in the WTO is notably very expensive which does not motivate trade. This study is of the opinion that a fund should be set up in the WTO for quarterly monitor of the progress of various activities such as policies reforms, multilateral access to information, free access to balance of trade and development index especially in the Global South member states.
The trade facilitation process must also be improved by all the stakeholders as shown in Appendix II. Only certain types of aid will positively affect trade within the Global South nations. To improve the impact further, specific governments must come up with more efficient customs operation procedures and reduce holding durations during clearing and forwarding. Governments should also improve on the technology and infrastructure aside from removing protectionist policies that slow or hinder trade.
Thus, in consideration of the impact of aid for trade from the WTO, aid should be treated as a means rather than an end by the Global South nations. The Via Campesina views the WTO as a failed body and policy initiative. Hence they have been calling for WTO’s removal of the 5% order to member states to import. The movement wants the WTO to remove all market access clauses as they are redundant. The movement want Agriculture de-listed from the WTO agenda as it is not being democratically addresses.
The movement noted that WTO erred in policy and consequently domestic agriculture was suffering due to 5% import order. Via Campesina noted that WTO policies had failed in the Global South as they encouraged dumping. Via Campesina found the WTO policy on piracy and intellectual rights wanting and misplaced. The WTO trade reforms have nearly stalled especially in the services sector. Many Global South nations would rather get a temporary permit to move their goods than wait at the borders with their goods as they loose value because immigration procedures have to be followed to the letter.
The Global South has frequently asked WTO to levy more tariffs on the most developed nations and lesser on the LDC, yet this has not been implemented to date. In promoting trade at the Global South, WTO has not been very sensitive to the local political barriers that slow down implementation of policies. A case in hand is when WTO proposes that handling of goods and services be done by technology yet the government on the ground drags their feet. It is the trades, in their private capacity who will stand to loose in such circumstances.
Government may be within its rights of budget constraints not to implement the policy if there is no tangible grant or aid forthcoming. WTO has not been transparent enough to declare the gain from the trading partners. This is affecting the confidence of the partner nations who may be under various cost burdens and would have otherwise gained from a shared losses plan when this occurs. This lack of transparency is negating the efforts and effectiveness of the WTO especially in the poorer Global South. The smaller nations from the Global South have often been arm twisted by the bigger nations once they move to the negotiations table.
When the bigger nations make bargains, they bare in mind that they have more to offer to other nations, therefore a proposal on a may not affect them since their interest are protected by economies of scale. The smaller and poorer nations often face major loses at the expense of the bigger bargains. WTO has been ineffective at addressing this contentious issue for a long time. The trick that larger nations use is to offer to pay more tariffs as long as they are allowed to protect their markets and industry from the outside trade.
Therefore the smaller nations have fewer places to sell their goods. It becomes even more expensive for the smaller WTO member from the Global South to mobilize political support for the waivers to take place. This negotiation ties up their cost further as the bigger nations benefits two fold. It has been noted that the poorer Global South nations are often faced with more cost challenges that would be anticipated under their WTO membership. This starts when there is an opportunity to reform policies. They are obliged to pay in advance of the implementation of the reforms.
Whereas capital may be a constraint, they miss out on upcoming trade opportunities. There is no point in coercing them to pay when they will have lost the market opportunity by the time they raise the reform fees. It is not their fault that there is no stable and effective financial mechanism within WTO to bail them out in such circumstances. At this juncture, even the proposed aid for trade will not be of much assistance. It is the responsibility of WTO, perhaps to come up with a more reliable and credible financial mechanism to help these poorer countries uplift themselves from this reform slavery.
The best alternative that WTO has to offer, though is the removal of the reform charges. However this is yet to be addressed by WTO with the urgency and seriousness that it deserves. Merely deciding on a beneficial aid as has been the tradition in the last few WTO conferences including the Doha Round will not do any of the Global South nations any good is this will not be transformed into action. This process must walk the talk by providing a flat playing ground to all the WTO member states and that the competition has to be equal. Additionally the funding period or date must be specific.