Feedback from businesses vital for WTO negotiations


  • Business
  • Wednesday, 22 Jan 2003

BUSINESS communities have an important role in shaping their country's national position for World Trade Organisation (WTO)-related issues as their inputs would help governments develop sound negotiating positions. 

“What we want to do is try to strengthen the integration of the business community into the entire process of negotiation,” International Trade Centre UNCTAD/WTO (ITC) division of Trade Support Services director Ramamurti Badrinath told reporters at a two-day workshop to discuss cooperation between business and government in preparation for the next WTO Ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico, in September. 

He said, previously, the business community used to wait for the results of government negotiations and try to comply with the decisions.  

However, now the business community needs to know in advance what is being discussed, and wants to play a role in how the negotiations are shaping as they realise these negotiations affect their business. 

“The first thing is to help the business community understand what the agreements are ? translate the complicated legal language into simple English which is easy to understand. 

“Secondly, while the negotiators receive training in negotiation techniques, we also try to transfer to the business community what the different negotiating scenarios would mean. For example, quotas in the textile industry. Not everyone would know what will happen when the quotas disappear,” he said. 

Thirdly, the ITC provides support whenever a dialogue between negotiators and the business community is required. He added that facilities like Internet-based services and websites are provided. 

“From now to Cancun, we plan to have four or five meetings of this kind, one in South Africa in two or three weeks time, and one each in Latin America, North Africa and Central Asia,” he said. 

FMM president Datuk Mustafa Mansur said the workshop, which the FMM is hosting on behalf of ITC, will be one of the many processes that may help countries achieve successful negotiations in Cancun. 

The “Business for Cancun” workshop consists of more than 40 senior government officials and business leaders from Malaysia and nine other countries in the Asian region: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. 

The agenda for the workshop includes items on business-advocacy on trade negotiations, the challenges and opportunities for developing country businesses in the textiles, services and agriculture negotiations in WTO, and the options for cutting barriers to market access around the world. Experts from the WTO and ITC would also talk about the progress in the WTO negotiations. 

The ITC is the focal point in the United Nations system for technical cooperation with developing countries in trade promotion. 

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