SEATINI monitors developments at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and mega-regional deals. The WTO continues to evolve with failure to strike major agreements at the WTO having resulted in mega-regional deals. Developing countries continue to adopt the cautious approach, though often over-powered by developed countries, as the multilateral trade rules tend to have disastrous effects on the farmers, small scale industries, labour and the socio-economic challenges in their respective countries. For southern African and other developing countries, trade distorting subsidies by developed countries offers unfair competition to their farmers and infant agro-industries while growing trade restrictive measures by the G20 countries points the unsympathetic behaviour within the multilateral trading system.
Trade liberalisation will likely continue at the exclusion of development-centred rules and the protection of agriculture in developing countries. Developing countries are failing to change the WTO rules as they are opposed to expansion of the WTO through the inclusion of competition policy, investment and government procurement. The demands for policy space to promote food security, jobs and sustainable development and abolishing of unfair agricultural rules (e.g domestic subsidies) at the WTO remains less appealing to developed countries. Export subsidies have been abolished though the most distorting form of subsidies, domestic subsidies, have been retained in the WTO rules. WTO outcome on cotton remain insufficient to incentivise smallholder cotton farmers in developing countries. The adoption of the information technology agreement, though do not directly affect the developing countries, its implementation will have some implications on tariff revenues for the developing countries. Frustrated with progress at the WTO and failure to impose new issues on the Doha Development Round, developed countries have turned to mega-regional deals. The mega regional deals involve deep integration among the largest and richest countries of the world with the likelihood of denying developing countries access to developed markets.
The trust of research and policy analysis is that of delivering on the potential socio-economic impacts of mega-regional deals on southern Africa, the mechanisms through which these impacts will be transmitted and alternative responses to this emergence. SEATINI also provides the dialogue platforms to discuss the new dynamics in multilateral trade and the emergence of mega regional deals for serious and constructive dialogue on the future of trade policy for southern African countries, the dynamic impacts of trade liberalisation, bring together key interests, objective analysis, viable options for trade and related policy among other constructive suggestions. Dialogues will be based on research papers around the implications of mega-regional deals to non-member countries and domestic and regional trade strategies that respond to the potential impacts of trade liberalisation and the mega-regional deals.
Building capacity of local farmers, entrepreneurs, parliamentarians, policy makers and students is an instrumental tool to achieve desired change along the area of trade policy. Movement building initiative focus on strengthening the voices of the affected constituencies in advocating for people oriented development. SEAINI has the agenda of delivering on an alternative development agenda that is compatible to African countries. The organization further pursues the agenda of linking trade with violence, peace and security, growing regional conflicts, taxation, dwindling domestic revenues and increasing privatisation of public services. Overall, monitoring of the WTO and mega-regional deals will focus to influence the African positions within the WTO and delivering the alternative development agenda. Capacity building initiatives will also target improving socio-economic incomes of the people affected by the global trade system.
SEATINI’s dream for a future world is one without war and violence. It is one where nobody needs to go hungry or thirsty, or without clothing, shelter, clean water, ample sources of energy, good health and education, and the higher pursuits of knowledge. It is a dream of a borderless world, where people move freely between climes and cultures, and where social structures, inclusion, culture and dignity give more status than consumer goods. It is a world where the benefits of the phenomenal advancement of science and technology are available to all, where these are applied to satisfy all the reasonable and sensible material needs of the world’s populations, where survival, access to basic needs and dignity are not dependent on paid labour
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