Friday, November 30, 2007

South Centre in Media: Helsinki Process- Consensus Against Neoliberal Washington Consensus

Yash Tandon, Executive Director of the South Centre participated in the Helsinki Process conference held in Dar-es-Salaam from 27-29 November.

The news item "Consensus Against Neoliberal Washington Consensus" appearing with the Inter-Press Service quotes Dr. Tandon.

Another consensus was also reached in Dar es Salaam: that the "Global South" -- developing countries, assumed to share common problems and goals -- does not exist. "There is no such Global South," Yash Tandon, executive director of the Geneva-based South Centre, told the conference. "The South is facing, fragmented, the development challenges posed by globalisation."

Read the complete news item at:

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Evolution of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures on tropical fruits

Samuel Asfaha, Programme Officer, Trade for Development Programme has been invited by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to make a presentation at the conference on "Opportunities and Challenges in the World Markets for Fruits and Tropical Products" jointly organized by the FAO and the Common Fund for Commodities, to be held in Guangzhou, China on 29 November 2007.

Mr. Asfaha's presentation will focus on the evolution of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures on tropical fruits, emphasising how the shift of resposibility for food safety from public authorities to private importers have led to the proliferation and stringency of private SPS measures interfering with exports of tropical fruits from developing countries.

The presentation will further underline the need for harmonization of private food safety standards and for enchanced participation of developing countries in international standard setting bodies and for South-South cooperation in food safety certification and accreditation.

South Centre participates in WTO Aid for Trade Global Review

South Centre participated in the first Global Review on Aid for Trade, organized by the WTO, in Geneva on 20 and 21 November.

The Review aimed at taking stock of how much trade-related aid is being delivered, for which specific purposes, and how successful such aid has been. A workshop, which preceded the Review, also provided a platform for the discussion of technical elements related to the implementation of an Aid for Trade Global Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism. South Centre will continue to work on Aid for Trade, aiming particularly at strengthening developing countries' capacity to better articulate their aid needs and to engage effectively in a Global Evaluation mechanism.

Defining a methodology for the identification of sensitive industrial products

Darlan F. Martí, Programme Officer, Trade for Development Programme contributed to a West African regional workshop on "Defining a methodology for the identification of sensitive industrial products" in the context of EPA negotiations.

The workshop was organised by the ECOWAS Commission in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) from 12 to 14 November. It intended to provide governmental and private sector stakeholders with a platform to discuss the pertinence of industrial policies in West Africa, as well as a possible methodology to identify industrial products which may require special attention during the EPA liberalisation process. The South Centre has acted as a facilitator to these discussions, on the basis of the document "Guidelines for the identification of sensitive products" prepared by the Trade for Development Programme.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Trade deal a game of high stakes: An Op-Ed by Yash Tandon

An opinion piece written by Yash Tandon, Executive Director, South Centre today appears in the Business Daily (Nairobi).

In the next few days, our leaders will decide whether to sign a new trade agreement with Europe. It will be a tough judgment call. The decision they make will weigh heavily on the course of our region’s development for decades to come. We have a long history with Europe in the light of which we must interpret current events. The proposed agreement by Europe will change the nature of our relationship from cooperation to one based on purely mercantile considerations. The EU and the ACP “partners” will be bound by the same rules. However, when unequal partners play by the same rules, the outcome is always in favour of the stronger side. With the proposal on the table it isn’t difficult to see who is likely to win. Analyses on the potential impact of the agreements prepared by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) show that the proposed opening up of 80 per cent of trade of the Eastern Africa Community (EAC) with Europe, will result in loss of tariff revenue of up to $130m per year.

Read the complete article at:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

International trading regime is much more than the WTO

Ms. Luisa Bernal, Coordinator, Trade for Development Programme, South Centre recently gave a presentation on possible elements of a development oriented trading regime and on NAMA at the Conference on Trade and Development organized by the Forum on Environment and Development in Oslo on 16 and 17 November 2007.

The topic of the meeting was the international trading regime and its implications for developing countries. The presentation made by Ms. Bernal stressed the following points:

  • The international trading regime is much more than the WTO given the exponential increase of bilateral and regional agreements. The scope and depth of commitments made in these agreements go beyond the WTO
  • The WTO rules represent however the framework for any bilateral and regional agreement
  • The current multilateral disciplines were developed during the Uruguay Round in a period when the Washington consensus was unquestioned
  • During the Uruguay round, the Special and Differential treatment was seriously undermined.
  • The agenda expanded to cover issues usually outside the purview of trade rules: investment related measures, services, intellectual property, etc.
  • The Round failed to deliver on issues of interest to developing countries (e.g. agriculture, textile and clothing)
  • The Doha Round was seen by developing countries as an opportunity to address the imbalances of the Uruguay Round. There was an inbuilt prioritization of issues in the agenda with agriculture, SDT and implementation issues to be addressed before NAMA and other new issues. However, the agenda has been gradually narrowed down putting on the side many aspects of interest to developing countries. There is a strong focus on market access, particularly in developing countries.

The assessments made about the potential impact of the Doha round on developing countries, based on the proposed modalities, show that the expected benefits for developing countries are very small and unevenly distributed. The poorest countries such as LDCs and Sub-Sahara Africa are expected to realize net losses as a result of the round. The Doha round is deepening the existing framework rather than creating an alternative approach to liberalization.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Advancing a development agenda on climate change for developing countries

South Centre is organizing a side-event on 5th December (Wedneday) at the upcoming 13th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change in Bali, Indonesia.

Climate change and the development prospects of developing countries are closely linked. These links need to be better understood for countries to have a more integrated and comprehensive approach to both development and climate change policy. This side-event will explore some of these linkages.

Vice Yu, Coordinator of the Global Governance for Development Programme, South Centre will be chairing the Event.

The Event will be held between 13:00-15:00 at Room: Wave (Grand Hyatt). The draft agenda for the event is available at:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Development Agenda for Internet Governance: South Centre participates in the Internet Governance Forum in Rio

The second meeting of the Internet Governance Forum, hosted by the Government of Brazil. is taking place in Rio de Janeiro from 12 - 15 November 2007.

Viviana Munoz, Programme Officer, South Centre will be making a presentation at one of the events at the Forum.

In her earlier presentation, made at the GigaNet Annual Symposium 2007 on the eve on the Internet Governance Forum on 11 Nov in Rio, she illustrated the potential of the "Development Agenda" approach for Internet Governance by highlighting corresponding process within the WIPO. She highlighted in her analysis the ten key components of the process of creating the WIPO Development Agenda, and their relevance for the IGF and Internet Governance. These ten components included: (1) building momentum; (2) conceptual framework; (3) identification of key problems; (4) leadership; (5) sustained commitment; (6) Coordination amongst developing countries; (7) prioritization and focus of initiatives; (8) the role of civil society; (9) collaboration amongst developing countries and civil society, both North and South; and (10) the strategic choice of forum for the agenda. For more information, see:

Rwanda and Canada: Leading the Implementation of the August 2003 Decision for Import/Export of Pharmaceuticals Produced Under Compulsory License

The South Centre recently published its third IP Quarterly for 2007. The Quarterly examines the use of the August 2003 Decision for import/export of pharmaceuticals produced under compulsory license by Rwanda and Canada. It concluded that the Rwanda-Canada case demonstrates that the August 2003 Decision is a viable option for improving access to medicines. The Rwanda-Canada use of the August 2003 Decision case so far is a success because of various factors that worked together, namely (1) an offer from a generic manufacturer to produce a new fixed dose combination drugs at no cost, (2) consent for royalty free use of their patents and non-opposition by right holders against the compulsory license, (3) the Rwandan government’s willingness to take the risk of navigating the untested system under the August 2003 Decision in order to address a public health problem, (4) the Canadian government that put in place a law that, at least in the present case, appears to be working, and (5) legal and public support from MSF that assisted the various actors navigating the procedural requirements.

However, it warns on the difficulty of using the system because of additional legal requirements under the implementing legislation in exporting countries. The difference in implementation legislation among exporting countries can also be challenging for importing countries.

It recommends developing countries to cooperate among themselves to facilitate the use of the August 2003 Decision. Furthermore, those developing countries with limited or no pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, should notify their intention to use the system in accordance with paragraph 1 (b) of the August 2003 Decision. Notification of intention to use of the system does not depend on ratification of the Protocol amending the TRIPS Agreement.

The full article is available at

The quarterly update also provides an update of major developments at the multilateral, regional and bilateral levels concerning intellectual property rights, innovation and access to knowledge.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Agricultural safeguard measures in the EPAs

With Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) set to be finalised at the end of the year, civil society is becoming increasingly alarmed that the agreements could have a potentially negative impact on the competitiveness of agriculture and the food and livelihood security of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. One tool to combat such a situation would be the ability of ACP countries to take emergency measures and restrict imports of a product temporarily – i.e. take "safeguard" measures – if its domestic industry is injured or threatened with injury, says Luisa Rodriguez, Programme Officer, South Centre in her article "Agricultural safeguard measures in the EPAs" published in the ICTSD's Trade Negotiations Insights, Volume 6. No. 7 (November 2007).

The article explores three reasons why an agricultural safeguard mechanism should be included in the EPAs and provides some recommendations on its design. Read the complete article at:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

South Centre organizes informal meeting on Aid for Trade

An informal lunch meeting was organized Trade for Develoment Programme, South Centre on 5 November in advance of the WTO's Global Aid for Trade Review to be held on 20-21 November 2007.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Conclusion of the WIPO Advisory Committee on Enforcement

The South Centre participated in the proceedings of the WIPO Advisory on Enforcement (ACE) held in Geneva on 1- 2 Nov 2007.

The ACE is a forum for discussion of enforcement matters and its mandate excludes norm-setting. After informal consultations, the ACE could not agree on the topic to be considered in its next session. The Chair has now invited Member States to send before February 2008 to the Secretariat proposals on the topics and on the procedure to be followed in the ACE to select future topics.

Member States asked the Secretariat to take into consideration Members' suggestions on the list of speakers to be invited for the next ACE. In making suggestions and selecting the future topics and speakers, Members should be guided by the spirit of and agreed proposals of the WIPO Development Agenda that was adopted at the past WIPO Assemblies, particularly no. 45 that reads:

"To approach intellectual property enforcement in the context of broader societal interests and especially development-oriented concerns, with a view that "the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights should contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations", in accordance with Article 7 of the TRIPS Agreement."

Sunday, November 4, 2007

South Centre participates in ILO Forum on Decent Work for a Fair Globalization

Yash Tandon, Executive Director, South Centre spoke at the session on "Upgrading work and enterprises in the informal economy" held on 1 November as a part of the ILO Forum on Decent Work for a Fair Globalization held in Lisbon, Portugal. Dr. Tandon delivered his address on "Mainstreaming the Informal Sector: Way out of Current Neo-Malthuisan Social Implosion in the Developing Countries."