Topic: Trade

Food fight at the WTO: de Schutter v Lamy on whether trade leads to food security

The WTO ministerial (there was a ministerial?) was predictably forgettable, apart from the accession of Russia (the last major economy still to sign up) and a pretty outspoken attack on WTO boss Pascal Lamy (right) by UN Food Security czar Olivier de Schutter (below), who accused Lamy of ‘defending an outdated vision of food security’. […]

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How can Contract Farming work for poor farmers?

The UN’s hyperactive (how often do you see those words in the same sentence?) special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, has a new report out on contract farming. At first sight, contract farming (expanding fast, apparently) looks a lot more promising than the parallel boom in ‘large scale land acquisitions’ (aka […]

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A nostalgic debate on globalization and development

When did talking on the subject of ‘globalization and development’ start to feel so retro? I got that distinct sensation at a lunchtime discussion at IPPR yesterday. The trench warfare of yesteryear – on the WTO, the Doha round, trade liberalization, protectionism etc, has somehow acquired a nostalgic glow. Most odd. In the room were […]

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How can advocacy NGOs respond to the global meltdown? FP2P Flashback

OK, it’s looking ever more likely that we are heading for a European double plunge recession (double dip sounds too pleasant), so here’s some thoughts from December 2008 about how to respond. Ever since the global financial and economic meltdown broke, NGO colleagues have been debating how to respond. That debate is now focused on […]

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The Globalization Paradox, a great new book from Dani Rodrik

Dani Rodrik is one of the handful of heterodox heroes, prominent economists who took on the lazy thinking of the Washington Consensus in its prime, and continue to dance productively on its grave. His latest book, The Globalization Paradox: Why Global Markets, States and Democracy Can’t Coexist, feels like a Big Book, one that may […]

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Random highlights of a week in Tanzania (workshop dancing, hyenas v goats, cricket attack – that kind of thing)

Any trip contains numerous golden moments that don’t fit into a neat blogpost. Here are some of them: The way a training session with activists regularly breaks into singing, dancing and general hilarity. If only all Oxfam meetings were like this. A vote on export bans: the government reintroduced a ban on exports of maize […]

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Land grabs update: (a lot) more hectares than we thought, and definitely bad for development

This week’s Economist has an excellent update on the recent spate of ‘land grabs’. It argues that the balance of evidence against them as a development tool has shifted decisively (and negatively) over the last couple of years. The overall conclusion is damning: ‘When land deals were first proposed, they were said to offer the […]

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The death of Doha? But the WTO lives on.

This piece of mine appeared on the Guardian development page yesterday (plus here, I include a few afterthoughts at the end) “The Doha round of global trade talks, launched by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in November 2001 amid a surge of solidarity after the 9/11 attacks, is experiencing the long slide into irrelevance that […]

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The Chinese in Africa – is there a backlash?

The debate in aid circles on China’s expanding role in Africa is often pretty crass – the demonisers v the rose-tinted spectacles. What has always struck me most in the past is how many Africans, both in government and elsewhere, prefer the businesslike approach of China to the finger-wagging of the ex-colonial powers. But China’s […]

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Land grabs: what's in the contracts? And an Indian land grab in Ethiopia

One of the problems with so-called ‘land grabs’ is secrecy. Most of the contracts that seal such deals are hidden from public scrutiny, which makes it very hard to establish what is really going on. The International Institute for Environment and Development, which is rapidly becoming the ‘go to’ thinktank on a whole range of […]

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The Upside of High Food Prices

Nice pieces from agricultural economist Steve Wiggins on the ODI and Guardian blogs, which I quote at length, because I think it’s an important correction to the discussion on the current food price spike. ‘In 2008 developing countries, and poor people within them, were hit hard by the price spike in the international cereals market. Once […]

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How can the global system manage scarcity?

Alex Evans is on a bit of a roll at the moment, with an excellent new paper on ‘Globalization and Scarcity: Multilateralism for a World with Limits’. It’s a great summary of the problems created by the threat of scarcity of food, land, water, energy, and ‘airspace’ (for greenhouse gas emissions). He confines his solutions […]

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