Trade Justice - Issues

Issues

Academics such as Thomas Alured Faunce argue that the insertion of a constructive ambiguity such as valuing innovation in bilateral trade agreements (and then according normative and ongoing lobbying power to such textual negotiating truces by formally linking them with non-violation nullification of benefits provisions) may undermine democratic sovereignty with regard to construction of domestic policy, particularly in areas such as the environment and public health. This view is strenuously contested by trade law officials and many domestic policy makers.

The mostly widely referred to demand of trade justice campaigners is access to the markets of developed countries or rich countries. When developing countries export to developed country markets, they often face tariff barriers that can be as much as four times higher than those encountered by developed countries. Poverty claims that those barriers cost poor countries $100 billion a year - twice as much as they receive in aid.

Most trade justice campaigners focus in some way on the agricultural subsidies of rich countries that make it difficult for farmers in poor countries to compete. For example they argue that the European Union's agricultural export subsidies encourage overproduction of goods such as tomatoes or sugar, which are then sold cheaply or 'dumped' in poor countries. Local farmers cannot sell their goods as cheaply and go out of business.

The campaign points to the treatment of agriculture at the WTO, which has institutionalised these injustices. In the few instances where developing countries have used the complex and expensive WTO process to declare subsidies (eg..US cotton subsidies) excessive, developed countries ignore these rulings, which the WTO itself does not enforce. Recently rich countries have begun to talk about cutting export subsidies, but they often demand greater access to poor country markets in return.

The term "trade justice" emphasises that even if the playing field were level, instead of tilted against developing countries, the poorest developing countries in particular would still struggle to gain from trade if forced to trade under free trade terms. This is because of their overwhelming lack of competitiveness - poor countries do not have huge stocks of exports waiting to be shipped to rich countries, instead most small farmers want to be able to sell their goods locally.

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