The failure of the IMF, World Bank and WTO to represent and further the interests of the developing world, through their one-size-fits-all approach, has lead to the collapse of trade negations, widespread criticism of their effectiveness, and bitter international protest. Many countries are rejecting the neoliberal ideologies of the ‘unholy trinity’ with intensifying calls for their reform or decommissioning.
The World Bank’s long-running identity crisis is proving hard to shake. When efforts to rebrand itself as a “knowledge bank” didn’t work, it devised a new identity as a “Green Bank.” Really? Yes, it’s true. Sure, the Bank continues to finance fossil fuel projects globally, but never mind. The World Bank has seized upon the immense challenges climate change poses to humanity and is now front and center in the complicated, international world of carbon finance. It can turn the dirtiest carbon credits into gold.
Agriculture’s dominant role in Sub-Saharan Africa’s local, national and regional economies and cultures throughout pre-colonial history has been foundational to 20th century colonial and post-colonial development. No other continent has been so closely identified with smallholder peasant farming. Nonetheless, smallholder farming has been eroding over the last three decades, perpetuating rural poverty and marginalizing remote rural areas. Donors’ search for rural ‘success stories’ merely reinforces this fact.
The battle against US imperialism and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has once again been taken to the streets of Mexico City. On the 31st of January, hundreds of thousands of small-scale farmers came out in protest against the free trade onslaught that the people of Mexico have been subjected to.
Ethical consumers should be celebrating. This year's "Fairtrade Fortnight" has kicked off with an announcement from Tate &Lyle that all its sugar will be designated Fairtrade by next year. This represents the biggest ever Fairtrade switch by a UK company. It follows Sainsbury's promises that all of its bananas are to be Fairtrade and Marks & Spencer's pledge to use more Fairtrade cotton in its clothing ranges.
Since the WTO Doha development round has reached a dead end, the EU wants to accelerate the advance of European corporations against its US competitors in the world market with the help of bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs). The powerful business lobby in Brussels is pushing for new treaties that include even those “WTO-plus” areas where countries of the South have steadfastly refused to budge: services, investment protection, intellectual property rights and public procurement.