bilateralism & multilateralism
There has been a spate of trade agreements signed between countries in recent years - from the same region and even beyond. And this may not necessarily have to do with the fact that it has been a tough going for the multilateral trading system. Regionalism may have its own dynamics.
Is the stalemate over the incorporation of core labour standards at the multilateral WTO level being compensated for by progressive promotion of labour rights in bilateral and regional agreements?
In order to increase and improve trade union participation in trade agreements an online discussion was organised in March 2005, over 4 weeks, which considered the involvement of trade unions in trade agreements, the role they play and the influence they have on the final outcome of trade agreements.
Under the guise of freeing trade, bilateral trade agreements (BTAs) are being used as a tool to further an absolute top-down Northern agenda, at the victimization of the poor and marginalized groups and communities of the South.
FTAs are being designed by the developed countries to get more than what the WTO and TRIPS could give at this stage.
Oman came to the closing stages of its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the US on October 3, after talks on the final details closed successfully. Omani and US officials say the final signing should now take place early in 2006.
"The consequences of failure would be an even further switch to [bi-lateral] Free Trade Agreements [FTAs] and long-term weakness for multilateral trade. Trade would become more discriminatory," said Razeen Sally, visiting senior research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.
Governments and the private sectors of the member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) should take a qualitative leap to establish an Islamic Free Trade Area (FTA) to overcome obstacles and bottlenecks that hinder the development of trade and investment between member states.
Intensive talks between Egypt and the USA, especially on intellectual property, are currently take place as a preliminary step toward concluding a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries.
Nineteen societies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have rapped moves to normalise relations with Israel and called for joint national and regional efforts to abort the US-initiated Broader Middle East project.
Thailand has been aggressively negotiating bilateral and regional trade agreements in the face of the uncertainty over whether the WTO will reach a deal on liberalizing global trade. But the agreements fail to live up to expectations of increased trade and investment.
FTAs "can build upon WTO rules and its framework by going further and faster in promoting openness and integration than is sometimes possible at the multilateral level. And there is a clear downside to standing on the sidelines while others scoop the markets."
The Third World Network held a regional Asian workshop on bilateral and regional FTAs on 26-29 August in Kuala Lumpur. Many speakers and participants voiced concerns about how the developed countries are making use of such FTAs to get developing countries to accept issues.
The Asian Regional Workshop on Bilateral Free Trade Agreements was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 26-28 August 2005. It was organized by the Third World Network and attended by about 120 participants from many Asian countries.
Several Asian countries and Asean as a bloc are now pursuing trade and economic frameworks and agreements with non-Asean countries.
Thailand should be more aggressive in its response to the US push for environmental and labour protection under the bilateral free trade area (FTA) agreement, a seminar sponsored by the Thailand Research Fund (TRF) was told.
Of late, there has been an outbreak of activism in the realm of bilateral free trade and investment agreements across the world. Many developing countries have found themselves swept off by the wave of bilateralism, not realizing it only weakens the cause of multilateralism.
Negotiations on bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) are going on at a blazing speed worldwide. Not much is known on how these talks are going. But they have a lot of effects on local industries and farms, on medicine prices and on what can be included in future development strategies.
An assessment published by a US military research outfit.
Recent developments in international trade highlight the difficulties facing the 15-member Caribbean Community (Caricom) as it prepares for a key World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting in Hong Kong this December.