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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK
Who's to blame for trade talks collapse?
Protestors in Cancun
We discussed WTO in our programme Talking Point. Our guests were Mike Moore, former Director General of WTO and Bianca Jagger, human rights campaigner.

The world trade talks in Mexico have collapsed amid serious differences between the rich and poor nations.

There was deadlock over proposed new rules on how countries treat foreign investors, on competition policy and trade procedures.

One of the key issues under discussion had been how poorer countries can benefit from the increasing globalisation of markets through subsidies, not the issue of foreign investment which led to the talks failing.

Developing countries, including those in Africa, have always maintained that they get a raw deal from the global trading system and that WTO rules tend to favour richer nations.

Who is to blame for the talks breaking up? Where does this leave the poorer trading nations?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

The Western countries have benefited greatly at the expense of "poor" countries, thanks to colonizing, exploitation and corporate greed. Now the tables are turning and will continue to turn until the balance shifts to a real state of "Global Free Trade", and without the subsidies the richer nations have enjoyed so lavishly for so long.
Laurie Williams, Miami Beach, FL

There is only so much money in the world. To give the poor more, the rich have to lose some. Who in their right mind is going to harm their country's wealth so that another can gain? From an environmental point of view, the poorer a country is the less damage it does to the world. Instead of labelling them poor, they should be labelled clean and pure. There simply are not enough resources in the world for billions of people to live like Americans. Get real.
Alastair, Perth, UK

I'm so tired of hearing about the nasty 'rich' countries. How many people know that the largest privately held store of gold is in one of the 'poor' countries - India. What is poverty? We have people in the USA who are starving - working people who have to line up for food handouts because their income doesn't meet even basic needs here. We have women who can't afford medical care and who die in childbirth. All of this backed up by surveys and documented. The problem is not wealthy countries, but the greedy in the poor countries who won't share what they have with their own people! Just look at how much money Saddam Hussein had stashed away, or the Marcos family in the Philippines, - name almost any 'poor' country and you'll find that the privileged in those countries intend to stay just that - privileged, whilst trying to 'guilt' the hard workers in other countries to subsidize the poverty they choose to ignore!
Susan, UK/USA

To Susan, UK/US: The reason so many Americans are so poor is because your beloved government spends the country's budget on a ridiculously large military to sustain repeated military adventures. I would also like to point out that those "greedy" people in the 3rd world, like Saddam and Marcos, were propped up and supported by the West, the same people who want to cripple 3rd world economies by so called "free trade".
Peter, Toronto

Allowing resources to be held in the hands of the few is always going to lead to corruption
Lynn, UK
Until we can trust our politicians to have no conflict of interest ie not in the hands of big business then poor countries will continue to lose out. Allowing businesses to grow in size allowing resources to be held in the hands of the few is always going to lead to corruption.
Lynn, UK

The farmers are to blame for the trade talks collapse. In all EU countries, they seem to punch well above their weight politically, which means that the EU politicians are too scared to open up our markets to third world competition. So, EU tax payers end up paying billions and billions of euros to support a failing industry, whilst simultaneously making the poor in third world countries poorer. They cannot compete in EU markets against our subsidised farmers. They cannot even compete in their home markets against subsidised imports from the EU. Until the EU farming lobby's stranglehold on EU politics is released, trade will not be fair and the third world poor will remain poor.
Matthew, Ringwood, UK

It's quite simple really. The WTO is made up of the leaders of the biggest multinational corporations. Any initiative for instilling fair trade in impoverished nations, any legislation to prevent the local environment or society being destroyed, in fact, anything at all which helps people other than the multinationals is deemed an "illegal barrier to free trade" by the WTO. It is a blatant abuse of international power by the organisation in place to prevent just that.
Lloyd Evans, UK

It's a combination of the poor countries wanting free money (most of which have happily been buying arms whilst their countrymen have been dying of starvation) and an unwillingness of the rich to give the poorer countries an additional "leg-up" into a competitive market-place everyone wants to be the leader of.
Ian S, UK, Birmingham

The main problem is that there are too many people in the poor world. If they had sensible levels of population growth, then they could feed their own people and have enough for export. If the poorer countries don't like globalisation, they can always go the way of Zimbabwe and destroy their economies and societies. Don't blame the West for being successful.
Steve, UK

Until agricultural subsidies are slowly and steadily reduced, there will be little if no progress
Sam Robinson, Canterbury, Kent
It's not a simple issue, but until agricultural subsidies are slowly and steadily reduced, there will be little if no progress. These subsidies result is unsustainably low prices that leave poor countries farmers having to sell produce at a small or non-existent profit. No wonder that they won't make such unfair deals with the US and the EU. I for one would love to see Britain make a stand on this issue and earn some respect from those poorer countries.
Sam Robinson, Canterbury, Kent

Well, in my own view, I think the European and US representatives should carry the blame. Why? They had known for some time from the previous meeting that the 'farm subsidies' agenda was not thoroughly talked over and hence it would be the first on the list of agenda in the new meeting. So they just brought about the idea of investment and the likes of it to the forum (new meeting in Dakar) and they kept pressing for the new issue (investment) without wanting to re-visit the old issue of 'farm subsidy'
Jotts, California

There is nothing to stop the G21 countries from establishing their own protected market - one that works in their own interests. The reason they don't is because they don't want to lose the billions in development aid donated by the rich countries. Essentially they want both subsidies, in the form of aid, AND a free market, both at the expense of rich countries. Until they take a step away from aid dependency, they are unlikely to achieve the progress they say they want.
Richard Evans, UK

Once again the environmentalist and anti-trade group have scuttled a deal. How ironic that poor countries are rejoicing - no deal means no progress. The demonstrators from developed countries can now go home to their luxuries, while the poor farmers are still without a future. These fringe groups need to be ignored and prevented from attending important summits - unless it's in North Korea where I am sure the authorities would have a warm message for them.
John Li, Australia

I am tired of hearing that "free trade" in the West is equitable to anyone! Powerful, rich lobbyists own the governments in the West and until we begin to reform our own governments and social attitudes, greed will prevail and the inequities and injustices in all the world will continue.
Marilyn, Canada

Efforts to effect change should be concentrated at home, not in Cancun or Seattle
Rick, London, England
The ignorance of most anti-globalisation commentators is breathtaking and profoundly depressing. Politics and politicians are the problem. Rich countries have a political agenda on agriculture which is ultimately damaging to poor countries, so efforts to effect change should be concentrated at home, not in Cancun or Seattle. But poor countries, particularly in Africa have such pathetic and damaging governments that any change for the better outside the region is unlikely to help because the benefits would either be stifled by bureaucracy or corruption. Again, protestors should concentrate on their own lousy politics. The rest of the ridiculous mob should retire home and read a primer on economics and trade.
Rick, London, England

It is clear that the talks failed primarily because the EU (in support of the over indulged French farmers) would not move, this supported the US position and stalemate resulted. Greed, contempt for others and total self-interest caused the failure, the EU should be ashamed of itself.
Mike Hall, UK

Developing nations are simply defending more impartial rules for world trade relations. In the 90's, many of these countries lifted barriers to imports of high-tech products, or suppressed laws that safeguarded the banking and telecommunications industries. The economies of richer countries benefited from the opening-up of developing nations' economies. But instead of finding reciprocity - and a truly fair global trade - developing nations found new barriers supported by the WTO for the sale of their products, like the limitations on steel imports imposed by the US. There are countless other barriers set by richer countries to either highly industrialized or agricultural products manufactured by developing nations. This situation was unfair and had to change. Developing nations had to start from a common ground and, for the first time, defend their common goals together. Most of these nations depend on the trade of agriculture products. Because agriculture subsidies are barriers in disguise, this was the common ground they needed to bargain for a fairer global trade.
Debora D., Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The rich countries are to blame. They want to continue to enjoy the goodies of life to the detriment of others. I hope they enjoy their time now. In future it will the turn of Africans.
Greg-O, Nigeria

Some will blame the West for all the evils against the Third World countries, but this is the beginning of the Third World waking up to the reality of unbridled capitalism and globalisation. The talks failed because poor countries stamped their feet and finally said an overdue NO to one of the oldest evil trait in human history - greed.
Fredrick Masiga, Kampala, Uganda

This is a victory for the disenfranchised and dispossessed the world over
Nathan, United States
Good for the "poor," smaller countries! This is a victory for the disenfranchised and dispossessed the world over. Inequity will never be vanquished as long as there are lopsided scales of justice. The WTO was formed by rich countries to serve rich countries; this much is clear. But the citizens of the world aren't taking it anymore. From Cancun to California - where a farcical recall is yet another example of the rich pulling strings to get their way - it's clear that regular, decent, hardworking people are sick to their stomachs, and that they want real change. Here's hoping these first tentative steps gain momentum and grow strong legs.
Nathan, United States

The reason a deal was not struck is many fold. However, the differenced between Western and developing countries is much greater than economic. Most developing countries have incredibly poor populations with governments that do little to alleviate their suffering. Western and developed countries can give away Billions, as we have done, and corrupt governments continue to flourish at the cost of their populations. Do not blame the developed nations and say nothing about politically corrupt politicians in developing countries.
Brian, Atlanta, USA

The rich countries have developed at the expense of the "poor" countries
Charles, Kenya
What do you mean by poor countries? This has been a label given to countries where rich countries have plundered! The truth of the matter is that the rich countries have developed at the expense of the "poor" countries. It's time to get a fair deal!
Charles, Kenya

The Cancun failure need not lead to a WTO failure but each side must rethink their assumptions and expectations because otherwise we could have a real stalemate and destructive recriminations.
Ralph Sato, USA

The problem was the developing countries taking the attitude that they are owed something by the developed nations, and that they don't have to concede anything themselves to get what they want. They are owed nothing. If we are going to cause our farmers the severe hardships that the removal of subsidies would cause them, we need some incentive beyond a warm fuzzy feeling in our hearts that we helped raise the living conditions of someone ten thousand miles away at the cost of our fellow citizens. The next time around, hopefully the developing world will send representatives who know what "compromise" means - maybe then they'll get something out of the talks.
Jeremy, Edmonton, Canada

The failure of the world trade talks is a stark indication of the huge divide between the expectations of the developing nations and the "avarice" of the developed powers! If this failure heralds equanimity in trade positions between the warring factions, then it should certainly be hailed! No talks can be meaningful unless they make an effort to visit critical issues of the participants concerned. In this case, the aggrieved parties were the developing nations that opposed the European nations doling out huge largesse (farm subsidies) to its farmers. If this is not "protectionism" then what is? This is plain double speak and ought to be condemned! Hail the talks collapse!
Geetha, Singapore

The break-up of talks is a sign that the second period of globalisation is over. America is following Britain's footsteps. America is now a "mature" economic power and go no longer play her leading role in the world economy. Trade rivalry, regional blocs, protectionism and consolidation is the future.
John, Sydney Australia

Why should farmers in the west have subsidy and at the same time the West dictates the poor countries to remove subsidy from their farmers!!!
Boniface Kisi, Arusha, Tanzania
This is the only way the big nations will realise that the poorer countries have discovered their dirty game of exploitation. There should be an equal ground, why should farmers in the west given subsidy and at the same time the West dictate the poor countries to remove subsidy on their farmers!!!
Boniface Kisi, Arusha, Tanzania

All you people who blame US should realize that the mundane reality is the US makes much more money by selling to and in investing in developed nations. If the third world was developed that would mean that we in the US would have billions more people who are not just willing but able to purchase our products. This would means that Americans could further enrich themselves. You America haters can not have it both ways America can not be greedy and seek to hold down the third world at the same time and therefor willingly pass up billions of dollars.
Colin Keesee, USA

I believe the workers in the developing countries should tale a stand and demand the same wages as those of us in more advanced economies.
Dan, hickory, nc, us

Globalisation in theory is the potential to lift the poor class of the ground. But bring in farm subsidies and tax breaks than globalisation just fails. The new name is called protectionism a short sighted approach to win votes.
John Lazoglou, Sydney, Australia

The collapse of trade talks was, in some ways, inevitable. The inequities of large, rich countries attempting to negotiate with poorer countries could only create a position in which the larger countries assumed an advantage, while the poorer countries refused to be overwhelmed.

The combination makes for a poor negotiation, and enforcement of any "deal" would be nearly impossible. Poor nations have chosen to "go it alone" on trade, and if they are to become rich nations themselves, going it alone is their only real choice.
Don Browning, USA

Only free-trade and not this conscience-sop banality of 'fair trade' will elevate the poor from their present penurious condition
John Galt, Tuxpan, Mexico
Will the last bleeding-heart liberal to pontificate from the comfort of the 1st world please switch out the lights as he leaves and leave us the hell alone? The Capitalist Hegemony urgently needs to be spread worldwide, NOW! Only through free-trade (ie: free of government interference) and not this conscience-sop banality of 'fair trade' will elevate the poor from their present penurious condition to something approximating a life of the humanity in the developed world.
John Galt, Tuxpan, Mexico

Those who think the WTO is supposed to be some tool for international welfare are to blame for the collapse.
Tara, Chattanooga, USA

It is the subsidies that EU and American governments pay to shore up their own key industries that are really to blame. What is deeply ironic of course is that the anti-globalisation brigade agrees with this kind of subsidy domestically to such an extent that they would extend it more widely if they could to pander to the protectionist elements within their own societies which are usually but not exclusively Trade Union based.

My sympathies are with those well organised poorer countries who would dearly love to practise free trade and wake up some of the protected cartels of the western world like French farmers and continental EU industry in general.
Martin Smith, London, England

The discussion must begin somewhere. Every day, most of us take off our clothes, give ourselves a wash and put on something presentable. We don't 'collapse' every time we get nude, do we? If we keep wearing the same garments for the sake of maintaining the status quo, we begin to stink. Now, if the WTO 'stinks', all we need to do is put out some fresh clothes that are presentable... and get to scrubbing. Nudity can stir many creative juices.
Tonya, USA

No blame is necessary, as the WTO fully deserves the rotten fruits of its own arrogance and injustice. We should be asking who deserves the credit for bringing this destructive monster to its knees!
Fred Hosea, US

You owe us more than we owe you so listen to our voice and empathize with our sufferings...
Ruji Medina, Dumaguete City, Philippines
Real and meaningful Free Trade will never be realized until the west stop being arrogant and cease to bully the developing nations. Americans and Europeans believe that it is their right to dictate the terms of trade: well, they should realize that without the cheap resources, and the sweat and hard labour of the developing nations their countries will not be as rich as they are now. Hey, you owe us more than we owe you so listen to our voice and empathize with our sufferings...
Ruji Medina, Dumaguete City, Philippines

I think the blame lies with the US and EU lack of capacity to deal with a significant challenge. They should have been better prepared. The challenge will not go away and is the future. Like everyone else they will need to find the best way to protect their own interests and adapt to modern and future demands.

The wealthy nations are to blame. If the wealthy countries do not make an attempt to incorporate the poor countries in a fair manner-without exploiting their people or resources-into the world markets, we're going to live in a much more dangerous world than today.
Inga Vikse, NYC

As NK below says, "Why shouldn't we in the West subsidise our farmers?" NK is right - we can spend our money as we please. But that doesn't mean G21 have to like it. Just as we put pressure on them, they can put pressure on us - and I say good luck to them. Do it to us, G21 - we've been doing it to you for long enough.
Colm Ryan, Milan, Italy

Access to what little resources are left in the poor world is all this is about
Zelko, Canada
Does anyone actually believe the huge multinational corporations are going through all this trouble to help the poor? That would be a first. Access to what little resources are left in the poor world is all this is about. How can a rich and poor country compete on a level playing field? It will never happen. "The poor stay poor, the rich stay rich, that's how it goes, everybody knows" (Leonard Cohen).
Zelko, Canada

The only reason that I can see for not removing tariffs is because the politicians know they will not be voted back in if they do. Farmers in the western world will lose farms and they will not vote to put the same government in that removed tarrifs.
Amin, Canada

The big winners of the WTO collapse are the corp. giants such Monsanto, ADM, John Deere and oil companies who take the lion share of the subsidies from the farmer. They are ones calling the shots for the US and EU trade delegations.
Mark, USA

Globalization and free market can only benefit poor countries, giving them a chance to compete on the world markets. What people blame on globalization is instead to be blamed on rich countries' protectionism, for example in agriculture, which damages poor countries by depriving them of the possibility to sell their goods, at the same time damaging European and American consumers who have to pay higher prices for their state-subsidized agricultural goods.
Andrea Baucero, Italy

Time to fight fire with fire
Amoroso Gombe, Kenya
What the G21 has to realise is that it will soon be a bigger market than the US or EU especially with Brazil, China, India, Australia and South Africa on board. What we need is expansion of the G21 to include all the other states and free trade between them. Come the next round, we will force the US and EU to submit to fair trade. What's more, we should employ their own tactics against them picking up members that are not quite part of the single market for preferential treatment. Time to fight fire with fire.
Amoroso Gombe, Kenya

The US and EU are to blame for this failure. Success of the talks was predicated on them granting increased access to their markets. Instead they chose to push a hypocritical line, demanding an extension of trade rules which would favour them, yet conceding nothing in return. What were the developing nations to do? Give something for nothing?
Damian Leach, UK

Poorer countries... have made a statement that they will no longer be held to ransom
Sean, UK
Some people are saying the poorer countries will suffer from the collapse of talks. I disagree because they have made a statement that they will no longer be held to ransom. At least they will now be freer for the stand they took. Developing countries have a very strong bargaining position which they now need to utilise. It is their massive levels of debt. If rich countries won't listen to their needs then the gloves should be taken off and these countries should default on this debt.
Sean, UK

I find it quite unsettling that the vast majority of these comments do not question the validity of the global economic system as it stands. It is hurting the poor and will continue to create people that have and people that have not. I am weaning myself from participation in this economy as most intelligent sensitive people are.
Brooke Watson, Canada

It's a very simple principle. There's enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed. When economic leaders come to terms with this, they will finally reach a solution that is fair to the developing nations as well as the rich ones.
Valerie, USA

I cannot understand the developing countries; they need the US and EU more than the reverse. They cannot expect to hold their hand out and receive without giving something in return. There was nothing wrong with the demands made from the EU. What's their problem - don't they want a level playing field?
Adrian, New Zealand

No government will willingly put its own people at a disadvantage
Mark, USA
The representatives of poor countries should understand that while there is awareness and sympathy for their plight on the part of representatives of the wealthier and more advanced countries, their first responsibility is towards their own constituents especially if their governments are democracies. The poorer countries would do well to devise win-win strategies where all sides gain because when push comes to shove, no government will willingly put its own people at a disadvantage purely for the noble purpose of helping those less fortunate in other countries.
Mark, USA

In the developed countries, trade is adding wealth to affluence. In the developing countries, trade COULD help stave off hunger and severe poverty - but only if it is fair trade.
Joachim Krautz, Ireland

One has to wonder whether there is any intention to honour these agreements
Steve Hart, New Zealand
We, in New Zealand, are all watching with serious concerns. Not a developing nation but we remain dependent on our agricultural exports for a large percentage of our GNP. Like the majority of developing nations, we were 'told' by the World Bank and WTO to open our markets, remove trade barriers and give foreign companies more access to our markets. In return we could expect the US and Europe to remove their tariffs and barriers. Well, we did and ever since we have been waiting for the US and Europeans to honour their side of the agreements. That was 13 years ago. One has to wonder whether there is any intention to honour these agreements or is it simply a way of increasing the wealth of the developed at the expense of the world's poor?
Steve Hart, New Zealand

No one is to blame for the breakdown of the talks.
The system will play itself in such a way that poor countries will not be able to produce and trade. The consequence is that both rich and poor countries will suffer, and the rich will suffer more since they'll have no raw materials for their industries.
The world should remember that fair trade will allow poor countries to produce more for the rich markets.
T Adams, Ghana

There is more than enough to go around.
Ben Anderson, Japan
A more united front of developing countries is posing negotiation problems for dominant economies. The 'fault' lies with dominant economies inability to recognise that there is ONE cake, and everyone deserves a fair slice. There is more than enough to go around.
Ben Anderson, Japan

I come from a country where there are no subsidies. I feel that this is better as only business (farmers mostly) that are run well make a profit and stay in business and the other tax payers don't have to prop up an over supply of goods. Also, I don't drink milk, so why should I have to help pay for it through my taxes for other people to drink it, as I do in England? You pay for the true cost of the product you buy, so this creates a more competitive and fair market place. It also means that (if all countries adopted this attitude) the international community market would also be more fair and competitive to all countries.
Nicola Harvey, New Zealand

Why shouldn't we in the West subsidise our farmers? It's our money we spend on subsidies, no one else's. Where we invest our own money in our own countries is no business of anyone else.

NK, UK : you state "Why shouldn't we in the West subsidise our farmers? It's our money we spend on subsidies, no one else's" - and why should taxpayers pay their subsidies! I don't see why they should be helped above everyone else and why I should have to pay for it. The arguement swings both ways you know!
stephen thompson, uk

How long will these so-called developing countries learn to free themselves from the West dependence Syndrome. What we see in these countries are presidents who are richer that their western counterparts and the poor masses. So what is supposed to come first here, the West caring for the poor people of developing nations or the rich presidents caring for their people. The truth is that those who blame the west for everything are scared that if the west does not feed their poor people, the people will rise against them and they will lose their wealth. They are not concerned about the poor as they want everyone to believe.

The talks collapsed because the time and the situation is not right and internal contradictions amongst the participants in Cancun prevent them from being effective. In a world forum, people need to take a global view. However each person instead comes as a spokesman for his constituency. As long as this contradiction is not overcome (historically) the outcome of any such meet is pre-ordained to fail.
Jasabanta, India

It is possible to see how global agreements, suitable for a level playing field, might be fair in the future. At present, however, richer nations hold the upper hand. It will take significant concessions from the West to alter this balance, and I am ashamed of our western reluctance to take these bold steps. We should expect our representatives to show leadership, and set an example of the kind of generosity required despite the pressures from vested interests within our own countries. Until then, the fact that planet earth is self sufficient, but still there are those without food, water and basic needs, is to the shame of us all.
Steve, UK

If EU and US fails to see things from the developing and under developed Nations' perspective, then the WTO will never be successful.
Both EU and US should stop subsidizing their Agir-industry as per the Doha ministerial meet agreement. Not doing this will make all the developing and under developed economies to suffer a lot and at end collapse economically and politically.
B.Balaji, India

A day will come when the rest of the world will be so poor, they will have no one to sell their products to
Monica de Alarcón, Argentina
According to Argentina's recent experience, trade liberalisation has resulted in factory close-down, unemployment, poverty and destitution. Currently developed countries have protected their own industry in the past, and now prevent other countries from doing the same. Thus they make sure our industry will never take off. A day will come when the rest of the world will be so poor, they will have no one to sell their products to.
Monica de Alarcón, Argentina

The majority of comments above are critical of unfettered globalisation and the behaviour of developed country governments and multinationals. So why are the UK, the EU, the US etc all pushing an agenda that we disagree with? We are either an untypical cross-section of voters, or our leaders aren't listening to the majority of their citizens.
Paul, UK

The row over agriculture subsidies shows that the poor need more globalisation instead of less of it
Rolf, The Netherlands

The row over agriculture subsidies shows that the poor need more globalisation instead of less of it: the EU and the US need to open their markets to agricultural goods from developing countries and stop subsidizing their farmers.
Rolf, The Netherlands

The USA and other rich countries should spend at least half of 320 billion dollars they spend to subsidize their own farmers for the ones in the poor countries. And then ask to open up the agriculture markets globally.
Daniel K., USA

EU and US farming subsidies are not only bad news for third world economies, they are also bad for the majority of EU and US citizens since we have to pay for these subsidies in our taxes. The only people they help are EU and US farmers.
Ben, U.K.

I am embarrassed by the naive and arrogant comments of my countrymen on this site. The majority of people in the developed world have never visited resource-poor nations and have utterly no concept of the true destitution in these places-and ironically that even applies to many of the "anti-globalization" activists. Meanwhile, Westerners who support "globalization" seem to think the term has something to do with better communication or travel between nations. The theory of free trade sounds great, but in truth developed nations have said one thing while doing another, for decades. Ask any dairy farmer in Mali, cotton farmer in West Africa, or AIDS patient in South America or the Caribbean if the behaviour of Western governments or corporations has followed the ideals of actual free trade, much less followed policies to alleviate suffering of citizens in developing countries. The playing field is stacked unfairly against resource-poor and likely will continue to be, I'm afraid. This is doubly true so long as the IMF and World Bank pursue 'one-size-fits all programmes. Instead of assuming they know what's good for persons in developing countries; rich Westerners should shut their mouths and take a visit. It might change some of their condescending stereotypes of our peers in other nations.
Dr. Richard Loftus, US

Fair trade, equal treatment to all nations has to be the base of globalization
Samuel Davila, Mexico
Fair trade, equal treatment to all nations has to be the base of globalization. We do not want those violent activists in Mexico. We are a country that loves peace and violent manifestation is not one of our values. Activists go back to your countries and get to work.
Samuel Davila, Mexico

After what the EU and US have been up to in terms of agriculture, I think the WTO should be disbanded. There is no point anymore the US won't move the EU won't move and in the mean time billions of people are suffering. The WTO was a good idea, it might even be again, but not until the EU and US change there attitude.
Daniel, Australia

I think rich people are the only ones gaining from globalisation. When you look at the world today, we can clearly see the huge gap between people in the developing world and the people in the developed world. There are people who don't have clothes and then there are people who have hundreds of clothes and shoes. The focus of globalisation should be to distribute wealth among everyone so that everyone has an opportunity to live a descent life. But the west is only looking to gain more capital even from the struggling poor countries. That's very sad and pathetic.
Theresa Kavenga, US/Zimbabwe

The main result of globalisation will be the impoverishment of workers in the developed world. The corporations sent all our manufacturing jobs overseas, now they are sending all our high tech jobs that were supposed to replace the manufacturing jobs to India. If we let corporations and governments have their way the future for developed world workers is Third world wages.
Gerod Wattier, US

Only countries whose leaders can manage their country well can benefit from globalisation
Kamarudin, Malaysia
Only countries whose leaders can manage their country well can benefit from globalisation. If they behave like crooks they can never achieve anything accept poverty for their people.
Kamarudin, Malaysia

The Developed countries should fulfil the promises they made at earlier summits. They should realise 'Charity always begins at home'. So if they want developing countries to reform, they should stop subsidising their rich farmers.
Ajith Pillai, India

Globalization should be embraced in true spirit not the convenient way rich counties see fit. Rich countries should come out of colonization hang over and start accepting the fact that the planet "EARTH" belongs to all - not few Western Powers.
Krishan Kumar, India/USA

I wish they could visit and witness the abject poverty in these countries
Opportunity Tigere, Zimbabwe
Poor countries could benefit from globalisation but not in its present form. I am sick and tired of government programmes for education and health being cut in Africa. Water is being privatised on the continent as well as other poor countries leaving the poor to drink dirty and unsafe water. That would never be tolerated in the West. Corruption goes on and in most cases is encouraged by these multinationals. I don't see how these IMF and World Bank economists keep using statistics to say countries such as Senegal, Uganda are progressing (lower budget deficits etc). I wish they could visit and witness the abject poverty in these countries. It's a shame.
Opportunity Tigere, Zimbabwe

Globalisation is certainly much better for poor countries than isolation. It's simple economics. Poor countries will be able to offer services and produce goods at a much lower price than wealthier ones, thereby placing enterprising individuals in these countries at great advantage.
Jason, USA

Globalisation is increasing the gap between haves and have-nots
J. Angulo, Mexico
Poor countries export cheap raw materials and their workers assemble products that will later be imported at 10 times their cost. When corporations find lower wages through corrupt governments, they move the jobs to even poorer nations. Third World farmers compete with highly industrialised, genetically improved and subsidised crops. Many have reverted to sustenance agriculture. Globalisation is increasing the gap between haves and have-nots, creating a potentially dangerous social scenario throughout the world for the future. There is no stopping the process until corporations stop chasing short-term profits and realise that the more people have a decent quality of life, the more customers they will have in the long run.
J. Angulo, Mexico

Why do we always see the negative side of globalisation? Yes, economic globalisation has yet to create an even playing field. However, look at the benefits of global cultural, social and political exchange. We are all learning more and more about each other every day, bringing a greater global understanding of ourselves.
Chris, UK

Poor countries can only benefit from globalisation if the WTO recognises the peculiarities of most of these developing countries, i.e. small market, dependence on a mono-crop etc and as such the need for special and differential treatment. Unless this issue is resolved then trade liberalisation and globalisation will continue to have more adverse effects on developing countries than advantages.
Rhoda, Commonwealth of Dominica

Globalisation requires good governance
Joachim Arrey, Ossing, Cameroon
Sure! However, many poor countries, especially African countries, need to make conscious efforts towards reorganising their countries in order to benefit from globalisation. Globalisation requires good governance, prudent management of scarce resources and the adoption of new and innovative approaches toward production and service delivery in order to be competitive at the global level. Poor countries are yet to consider investments in new and innovative technologies as the first step toward benefiting from globalisation.
Joachim Arrey, Ossing, Cameroon

I don't have a problem with globalisation or free trade per say. What I do have a problem with is the hypocritical way in which the developed world is undertaking the process. It's a do as I say but not as I do policy. The US and Europe needs to stop subsidising agriculture and certain key industries. If they refuse to do that then they should stop demanding that the developing world open up their markets.
Mid, Barbados

WTO policies benefit large international corporations rather than the local community
Pat Long, USA
The world should be focusing on fair trade, not free trade. WTO policies benefit large international corporations rather than the local community. The well being of the farmer or tradesperson should be the main consideration. WTO policies favour the wealthy, large companies which care about nothing but profits. Environmental safeguards and worker welfare should be protected at all costs.
Pat Long, USA

I've just returned from a trip to Burkina Faso, where they grow a lot of cotton. They export over 80% of this to service their national debt. But the price has plummeted due to the massive subsidy that the US government gives to US farmers, who dump their excess cotton on the world markets. So the US subsidy is having a direct impact on the poverty of that country. Too many of the developed nations are in it selfishly and want new open markets for their exports while they still indulge in unfair practices. Hopefully Cancun might start to change that.
Andrew Frost, UK

Does globalisation help the poor? Maybe a little bit... but boy does it help the rich!!
Lon Barfield, UK

Well, the WTO is a frontal organisation for the official exploitation of poor countries. A saga of modern day colonisation. This organisation does nothing but steal from the beggars and fill the pockets of the rich with a few more pennies, leaving the poor to die.
Arun Kumar, India

Certainly the WTO will help poor countries provided that there is no protectionism. Eliminating protectionism in the WTO would be perfect, but I doubt it will ever happen and we poor will remain so forever.
Purna Chhetri, Bhutan

Free trade will be allowed only so far as it does not damage the market share of the big players
Ken, UK
Poor countries will only benefit from globalisation by receiving the crumbs from a bigger loaf of bread and providing cheap labour for multinational companies. The pecking order will remain the same. Free trade will be allowed only so far as it does not damage the market share of the big players.
Ken, UK

Globalisation depends on how we define it practically. Apparently there could be inequitable distribution of economy in the world unless it embraces fair trade policies globally rather than tentative conclusions. Countries like Nepal, Brazil and many African nations, abundant resources of hydropower, agriculture and mines, have not substantially benefited yet even though it has been long since that global perspective has been introduced. Rich countries, considering economically stronger, should practise in stipulating the whole potential outcomes of poor nations, hence reinforce their economy. If otherwise globalisation will only remain as either politics or monopoly in the global economy.
Sanjeev Kharel, Nepal

Why do we treat the economy like it is THE most important issue around which all others must be fitted? What ever happened to the centrality of human things; like family and friendship? In the mechanised age are we becoming like machines ourselves - more concerned with processes and productivity than with relationships?
Lee, England

Globalisation only benefits the rich countries. It's them who came out with the term
Richard, UK

No, poor countries will not benefit until and unless the rich countries stop talking from both sides of their mouths. As long as there are double standards, the status quo will remain.
Dee, Zambia

The problem is never simple to solve. In the UK is that shoppers want the lowest price and the greatest choice. I was in Tesco's last night and in the fruit and veg section, mange-tout, sweet corn and carrots were produced in Africa and flown to the UK. I doubt if the growers were paid a fair price and the pollution involved must have been terrible. Trade in exotic goods is not the problem (unless you fly them everywhere), people must understand that paying a fair price is needed to redress the balance, but the EU and US must stop the farming subsidies.
Mark, UK

The biggest trade barriers against poor countries are imposed by their poor neighbours. They impose costs and corruption inducing bureaucracy. Globalisation will take opportunities to where they provide best value. That means we had all better be ready for its effects.
Matt, UK

The evidence is clear. Those countries that globalised slowly under there own terms benefited and those that were made to do it quickly by the WTO, IMF and World Bank didn't.
Matthew Freedman, UK

I predict a future of constant economic booms and busts for all nations, rich or poor
Jeff G, USA
The answer is no. For example, Mexico will lose about 25 million agriculture jobs over the next few decades as a result of NAFTA, because they cannot compete with US farmers. These people cannot depend on manufacturing because many factories in Mexico are closing down and moving to China for cheaper labour. So more Mexicans will illegally cross the border into the US, however with American jobs disappearing at a rapid rate to lower paid workers in India, Russia and the Philippines they won't find much to do here either. The Indians, Russians and Filipinos will soon lose these jobs to countries with even lower labour costs. I predict a future of constant economic booms and busts for all nations, rich or poor, as this constant cycle of moving jobs around the globe to benefit from ever lower labour costs continues. Other than the corporations no one will benefit.
Jeff G, USA

Rich countries can absolutely do more so that poorer countries can benefit from globalisation. Once everyone realizes that we have the same needs and we are not different but are but the same, only then can progress be made. If richer countries shared what they have with poorer countries then thousands would not perish through starvation on a daily basis. When people can see the value of human life and value it more than material objects money, oil, drugs, only then will the world wake up to the cries of other nations.
Yogini Patel, USA

Globalisation will only benefit those willing to make a fair bargain. Those countries who want something for nothing will always complain.
Richard Murray, UK

If "globalisation" is used as a synonym for capitalism, then the poor countries will continue to be exploited by the wealthy nations. However, if "globalisation" is used to redistribute the wealth of the rich nations to those impoverished ones, the answer is obviously "yes": poor countries will benefit. It all hangs on the definition of the vague term "globalisation", and in what context it is being used and by whom.
Alan Hall, UK

Poor countries will benefit from globalisation, by losing their lean industrial and commercial frameworks. It will mean major opportunities and probably cheaper access to products and services, for the majority of the poor population. The price to pay by these underdeveloped countries will be loosing their capacity to compete with the richer countries and becoming more dependent on them. If they are trying to improve their lot, by loosing their capacity to be self sufficient is a very good option.
Jose Nigrin, Guatemala

Trade is not yet free
Amoroso Gombe, Kenya
Of course poor countries will benefit from free trade. The reason they don't benefit now is because trade is not yet free. There is free trade in industrial produce (which is good for the industrialised world) but there is no free trade in agricultural produce (which is bad for everyone but worse for the non-industrialised poor). That's the simple problem that must be solved at Cancun. If it is, Cancun will be a huge success.
Amoroso Gombe, Kenya

It's quite simple. Unless we, the developed countries, don't provide a fairer and more equitable world trade environment, then the poor countries may start to take the law into their own hands. We will reap what we sow.
Nigel Cooper, England

Globalisation is nothing new. The conquest of the Americas, slavery and colonialism all involved trans-national trade, labour relations and the global exercise of power. Historically, powerful interests have prospered at the expense of the underdevelopment of the rest. If globalisation today is to have any chance of benefiting poorer countries then international organisations like the WTO must work harder to ensure equal terms of trade throughout the world rather than enabling the continued exploitation of the many for the gain of the few.
Jarrod, UK

I don't think it will be that simple. Unless corruption can be abolished, the people of these poorer countries will never truly benefit from any help from the west.
David Hilton, Hudds, UK

Yes they can, but only if the process of globalisation involves genuinely free and fair trade. One of the greatest injustices at the present time is the huge subsidies which farmers in Europe, the USA and Japan receive. This corrupts world market prices, makes life impossible for farmers in the developing world and directly contributes to world hunger. If WTO can start listening a bit more to the governments of Brazil, South Africa and other developing countries, rather than the apologists for major multinational corporations, we might start to get somewhere.
Tim Hiscock, UK

All countries should open up their markets
Graeme Phillips, Germany/ UK
With 4.4% last year, the OECD nation with the highest rate of economic growth was New Zealand, which is by far the most unprotected economy in the developed world. All countries should open up their markets; even developing ones. Furthermore, positive discrimination should not be used as it encourages uncompetitive industries to develop. If countries were allowed to succeed completely on their own merits, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
Graeme Phillips, Germany, normally UK

Globalisation commodifies resources (water) that sustain life in poor countries. This has profound and potentially catastrophic implications for rural, agrarian communities. As it was shaped by the World Bank and IMF, multinational interests were far too great a factor in the shaping of policy. Combined with widespread corruption among the political and bureaucratic elites in countries (e.g. India and Mexico), WTO policies do not achieve the economic "trickle down" necessary to stabilise these governments, leading to greater political and social instability. If "equality of all men" loses to the interest to accumulate capital for multinational market expansion, then the WTO has failed in principle.
Erik T. Marketan, New York City, USA

'Globalisation' is not just a post-war phenomenon: it has been a fact since the age of sail, and has resulted in the wild prosperity of the Americas, the East-Asian 'Tigers' and it is currently benefiting India amongst others. While there is room for some cultural protectionism (Canada and France are great proponents of this), open markets, sensible property ownership laws, and protection of copyright are necessary steps for any country's economic development.
Kristian, Canada

Market globalisation has not helped the citizens of the Third World
Said Bahashwan, Tanzania
As a citizen of one of the poorest countries in the World, I can say with authority that market globalisation has not helped the citizens of the Third World. Sixty percent of my country's budget is subsidised by the EU, Japan and American funds, and we have no local industry to speak of, since the government was forced by the IMF to privatise as many state-owned firms as they can. Most of these firms ended up owned by firms from the developed countries. The results are high unemployment, political instability and full ownership of our economy by foreigners.
Said Bahashwan, Tanzania

As it is conceived today, "globalisation" mainly means that the most powerful corporations from developed countries will have easier access to underdeveloped countries' resources. The world was unbalanced before; this so-called globalisation will likely make it even more unbalanced, resulting in more suffering across poor nations.
James, Canada

The whole issue revolves on how we value human life. We don't live in a world where the free international markets are operating on a level playing field. Multinational companies have enormous power. Gandhi was right; each poor country needs to develop its own strengths from the grassroots upwards and not be swallowed up by the world market place. With the advent of internet technology the sharing of information through the support of voluntary organisations such as Oxfam should be so much easier than ever before.
Sonia Halder, UK

The whole globalisation argument is flawed from the start. The big corporations siphon money and resources from developing countries and don't put anything back to help the local populations. Globalisation could work if corporations gave a fair deal to developing nations, and not sucked them dry. There is a big difference between free trade and fair trade. Free trade benefits no-one except the corporations; Fair trade benefits everyone. Paul Weaver says "Globalisation redistributes wealth from richer countries to poorer countries". This could not be further from the truth, otherwise developing countries would be a lot better off already.
Peter, England

To Paul Weaver, UK. Globalisation encourages poorer countries to stay poor so they can attract multinationals. If a Gambian worker costs £5k then another country will soon offer their workers for £4k, and another will then offer theirs for £3k, etc. The only winners are the multinationals who make even more profits for their shareholders and directors in the richer countries.

Of course, assuming they have a stable government. Jobs get outsourced from the UK, where a helpdesk person, equipment, training, managing etc. costs £50,000 a year, to Gambia where they cost £5,000 a year. That £5k in Gambia is an above average wage, and the money is injected into the local economy. Globalisation redistributes wealth from richer countries to poorer countries.
Paul Weaver, UK

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