World Trade Organisation's latest attempt to defuse resistance

27 January 2010

Earlier this week, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) announced a new programme to support teaching on trade policy and ‘WTO-related matters’ in universities in developing countries. This programme would fund teaching, research and outreach on trade issues à la WTO.

The current Doha round is in its painful ninth year and the failure to come to a conclusion has been testament to the growing resistance of civil society and developing country governments to the bullying tactics at the WTO where rich countries have sought to fiercely promote corporate interests.

The WTO has made gains in opening up markets in developing countries but they want more. They are upping their game: If you can’t always get your way with negotiators from developing countries, why not groom some instant advocates in key countries, through a programme to indoctrinate, sorry I mean influence, a generation of potential policymakers and trade experts in the ways of the WTO?

This strategy bears uncanny resemblance to the 1957 US funded programme for Chilean students to study Economics at the University of Chicago, as cited by Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine, in the hope of challenging the socialist regime back home. Chicago was, of course, home to Milton Friedman and these students were being trained in the ways of monetarism, free trade, privatisation and deregulation.

I’m sure that free trade and deregulation will be on the WTO core curriculum as well. The WTO want to ensure the long term future of free trade and this is the latest tactic to secure WTO policies in the face of continuing resistance from civil society and developing country governments.



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