bretton woods system wto

Dec 13, 2020

The priority of the political enterprise of containing the Soviet Union and Communism pushed the North, particularly the US government, to a less hard-line stance when it came to the question of whether the economic structures of its client countries conformed to free-market principles. It also veered away from a classic exploitative stance to promote at least the image of supporting limited global redistribution of wealth, this being accomplished mainly through foreign aid. Most important of these was the Cold War. <> It is against this dismal background that we now to move to the question of reform. This left unilateralism in trade and financial diplomacy as the principal mechanism employed by the US to deal with the increasingly successful Asian "tigers. At Bretton Woods, 75 years ago, it was not much more than a gleam in the eyes of the participants. This is the reason why, in promoting the WTO in the US Congress, former US Trade Representative Mickey Kantor characterized the WTO as a "sword" that can be used to pry open economies. But as the Cold War wound down from the mid-1980's, the US began to redefine its economic policy toward East Asia as the creation of a "level playing field" for its corporations via liberalization, deregulation, and more extensive privatization of Asian economies. But on the other end there is going to be a significantly different Asia in which American firms have achieved a much deeper market penetration, much greater access. As for the World Bank, it had evolved into the prime multilateral development agency for aid and development. A close examination of the development and impact of the AOA would be useful for it illustrates how the dynamics of rivalry among the trade superpowers that is one of the driving forces of the GATT-WTO intersects with the equally dominant dynamic of subordinating the South to the North. At the same time that it erodes the agricultural base of the developing societies. The place to begin this analysis is the period of decolonization in the 1950's and 1960's. The multilateral trading system became a reality only somewhat later. Praphai Jundee They are a shrinking population."20. Third was an effort to split the South by picking a few countries as "countries of concentration" to which the flow of bank assistance would be higher than average for countries of similar size and income. Background Report No. 1 0 obj The problems of the Bretton Woods system were dealt with by the IMF, the G10 plus Switzerland, and by US monetary authorities. For situated in this broad historical canvas, the Uruguay Round Agreement of 1994 emerges not so much as the triumph of enlightened free trade over benighted protectionism but, more importantly, as the culminating point of a campaign of global economic containment of the legitimate aspirations to development on the part of Third World countries. c/o CUSRI, Chulalongkorn University In their view, GATT-WTO is inherently unsympathetic to industrialization. In the case of the World Bank, a turning point of sorts was the debate triggered by the 1951 report of a group of experts entitled "Measures for the Economic Development of Under-Developed Countries," which proposed making grant aid available to Third World countries.4 Using this as a springboard, Third World countries at the General Assembly tried to push through resolutions that would establish "Sunfed," the Special UN Fund for Economic Development, which would be controlled not by the North but by the UN and whose criterion for providing loans would not be narrow banking rules but development need. The instruments chosen for rolling back the South were the World Bank and the IMF. While professing anti-communism, governing elites throughout the Third World, which were the backbone of the UNCTAD system, gave in to popular pressure, abetted by local industrial interests, to tighten up on foreign investment. In fact, developing countries have been penalized by policies that have brought about the "negative subsidization" of their agricultural sector.48. This Southern attitude toward the WTO can best be appreciated if the emergence of the institution is placed in the context of the South's struggle for development over the last 50 years. Tel: 662 218 7363/7364/7365 One study estimates that for 18 developing countries, 'taxation' or the transfer of value from agricultural production as subsidies to other sectors of the economy amounted to an average of 30 percent of the value production. At Bretton Woods, 75 years ago, it was not much more than a gleam in the eyes of the participants. They are, to borrow a metaphor from Max Weber, an iron cage of three overlapping bureaucracies and mandates where Southern aspirations and interests are structurally constrained. By the time of the Seattle ministerial in late 1999, the Agreement will have been in effect for nearly five years but so far, it appears to have had little effect in terms of effectively reducing the protection and subsidization enjoyed by agriculture in developed countries. cutting or constraining wages and eliminating or weakening mechanisms protecting labor like the minimum wage to remove what were seen as artificial barriers to the mobility of local and foreign capital. "South Decries Moves to Close UNCTAD, UNIDO," Third World Resurgence, No. Such payments were excluded on the specious grounds that they were 'decoupled from production' and thus 'non-trade distorting. Black, like any other banker, had little use for soft loans. What did break down was the rules of cooperation for the convertibility of the dollar into gold and the exchange rates regime. The Bretton Woods system established a(n) a. international system without colonies. Rather than seriously promoting a mechanism to advance free trade, the two superpowers resorted to the rhetoric of free trade to regulate a condition of monopolistic competition, with each seeking advantage at the margins. Our founders faced two massive tasks: to deal with the immediate devastation caused by the War; and to lay the foundation for a more peaceful and prosperous postwar world. 1, No. The solution to this condition of subsidized overproduction, said EU Agriculture Minster Franz Fischler, was intensified efforts to exports grain.49 Continuing subsidization has also deepened US agriculture's dependence on massive exporting. radically reducing government spending, ostensibly to control inflation and reduce the demand for capital inflows from abroad, a measure that in practice translated into cutting spending on health, education and welfare; liberalizing imports and removing restrictions on foreign investment, ostensibly to make local industry more efficient by exposing them to foreign competition; privatizing state enterprises and embarking on radical deregulation in order to promote more efficient allocation and use of productive resources by relying on market mechanisms instead government decree; devaluing the currency in order to make exports more competitive, thus resulting in more dollars to service the foreign debt; and. As the right-wing think tank Heritage Foundation saw it, the governments of the South devoted "enormous time and resources to spreading the NIEO ideology throughout the UN system and beyond. The Bretton Woods Conference, formally known as the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, was the gathering of 730 delegates from all 44 Allied nations at the Mount Washington Hotel, situated in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, United States, to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the conclusion of World War II. By the early 1960s, the U.S. dollar's fixed value against gold, under the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates, was seen as overvalued. The original Bretton Woods agreement also included plans for an International Trade Organisation (ITO) but these lay dormant until the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was created in the early 1990s. The image of international relations in a world marked by few international arrangements as "nasty" and "brutish" has always been a Hobbesian fallacy that has not corresponded to reality. Second was a global program aimed at ending poverty via a program that sought to sidestep the difficult problems associated with social reform by focusing aid on improving the "productivity of the poor." However, USA established the order because USA’s prosperity is dependent on free trade. Mayuree See, among other works, Towards a New Trade Policy for Develo2pment (New York: UNCTAD, 1964). The indiscriminate financial liberalization demanded by Washington and the Bretton Woods institutions coupled with the high-interest rate and fixed currency regime favored by local financial authorities brought in massive amounts of foreign capital into the region. "14 The South's effort to redistribute global economic power via UN mechanisms was viewed as a concerted one: Private business data flows are under attack internationally and by individual Third World countries; proposals for strict controls of the international pharmaceutical trade are pending before more than one UN body; other international agencies are drafting restrictive codes of conduct for multinational corporations; and UNESCO has proposed international restraints on the press.15, Especially threatening to the Foundation was the effort by the Third World to "redistribute natural resources" by bringing the seabed, space, and Antarctica under their control through Law of the Sea Treaty, the Agreement Governing Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (called the "Moon Treaty"), and an ongoing UN study and debate over Antarctica. WTO. For reform, not revolution, was what the NIEO, the Non-Aligned Movement, and UNCTAD was all about ... and look where this already very limited enterprise--what one Northern observer described as "the present order, with extra helpings for the flag bearers of the South"55 — got the Third World. With domestic prices set considerably above world prices and no controls on production, European farmers expanded production. The Bretton Woods Institutions Focus on the South. 7, Nos. The main beneficiaries of clearly articulated structures are always the powerful and the rich. National treatment, which is institutionalized in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) of the Uruguay Round, is perhaps the most revolutionary of these principles and the most threatening to the South for it gives foreign service providers, from telecommunications companies to lawyers to educational agencies, the same rights and privileges as their domestic counterparts. Marco Mezzera Understandably, many of the other GATT members, and not only those from the South, felt that they were practically coerced into signing the agreement. The 1944 Bretton Woods Conference, which created the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, was a major landmark in international cooperation. When the Reagan administration came to power in 1981, it was riding on what it considered a mandate not only to roll back communism but also to discipline the Third World. Nicarnor Perlas, "GATT, Biotechnology, and the Church," Paper presented at the Catholic Bishops Conference for the Philippines-Visaya Secretariat," Nov. 16, 1994, p. 5. The main threat to the system as a whole was the Triffin problem, which was exacerbated after 1965 by expansionary US monetary and fiscal policy which led to rising inflation. As the US Trade Representative told Congress, the Thai government's "commitments to restructure public enterprises and accelerate privatization of certain key sectors-including energy, transportation, utilities, and communications-which will enhance market-driven competition and deregulation-[are expected] to create new business opportunities for US firms. However, USA established the order because USA’s prosperity is dependent on free trade. Doug Bandow, "The US Role in Promoting Third World Development," in Heritage Foundation, US Aid to the Developing World: A Free Market Agenda (Washington: Heritage Foundation, 1985), p. xxii. A US firm has patented 'Jasmati' rice which is a cross of Thailand's jasmine rice and India's basmati rice. From GATT to the WTO: An Overview; ... (GATT) traces its origins to the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference, which laid the foundations for the post-World War II financial system and established two key institutions, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The Accord was then promptly tossed to other GATT members by the two superpowers in 1994 on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. It is to assert, however, that containing the South was an equally key dynamic that intersected crucially with the fight for markets among the developed countries. Heute hat die WTO 164 Mitgliedsstaaten, die rund 98 Prozent des globalen Warenhandels abdecken. However, access to Japanese capital, which was relocating many of its industrial operations to East and Southeast Asia to offset the loss of competitiveness in Japan owing to the rapid appreciation of the yen triggered by the Plaza Accord in 1985, allowed countries like South Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia to ignore the requirements of formal structural adjustment programs that were foisted on them by the World Bank and the IMF in the early 1980's when they were temporarily destabilized by the debt crisis. First, for the aggregate measure of support, export subsidies and tariffs, the 1986-88 level at which the items were bound were quite high relative to the levels in 1995 when the Agreement took effect, resulting in minimal actual reductions in subsidies and tariffs relative to 1995 levels. "52 He continued: "Those countries have to agree if any major steps are going to be made, that is true. Because it strengthens considerably the system of private patenting of intellectual property, TRIPs has opened the way for the privatization of products developed from genetic processes or communal technological innovation in the South. HYPERLINK Moreover, this has placed the burden of adjustment on developing countries relative to countries who can afford to maintain high levels of domestic support and export subsidies. While the more radical expression of this agenda in the shape of the Leninist theory of imperialism drew much attention and, needless to say, condemnation in some quarters, it was the more moderate version that was most influential in drawing otherwise politically diverse Third World governments into a common front. GATT and WTO. Several mechanisms have worked to produce these results. Reflecting on the dramatic change in the world over the last year, I paid a visit to the Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, where 44 men signed our Articles of Agreement in 1944. <>/ProcSet[/PDF/Text/ImageB/ImageC/ImageI] >>/MediaBox[ 0 0 612 792] /Contents 4 0 R/Group<>/Tabs/S/StructParents 0>> Evolution of international economic system from Bretton Woods to WTO. UNCTAD and Group of 77 pressure was also central to the IMF's establishing a new window, the Compensatory Financing Facility (CFF), which was meant to assist Third World countries in managing foreign exchange crises created by sharp falls in the prices of the primary commodities they exported. Undoubtedly, AOA does offer some concessions to the South in the form of the lifting of quotas and some reduction in tariffs on developing country exports of commercial crops like palm oil and coconut oil. "46, The combination of minimal cuts in tariffs, export subsidies and AMS, and the maintenance of direct income payments has had the predictable result of raising the total amount of agricultural subsidies in the OECD countries since the Agreement came into force: from US$182 billion in 1995 to an astounding $280 billion in 1997, with the major share of this figured accounted for by the EU and the US. The manner in which the Agreement came into being lends support to this interpretation. But it also served as the wide highway through which $100 billion exited in 1997 in a massive stampede in response to dislocations caused by overinvestment and unrestricted capital inflows, like the collapse of the real estate market and widening current account deficits. 1-4, p. 357. Instead, the Fund was deeply involved in stabilizing Third World economies with balance of payments difficulties. UNCTAD continues to survive, but the truth of the matter is that it has been rendered impotent by the WTO, which came into being following the signing of the Marrakech Accord in April 1994, which put in force the agreements concluded during the eight-year Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Cited in Seamus Cleary, "Toward a New Adjustment in Africa," in "Beyond Adjustment," Special Issue of African Environment, Vol. Officially founded in 1995, the WTO traces its roots back to Bretton Woods where the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) was crafted … USTR Charlene Barchefsky, "Remarks Prepared for Delivery at the US Department of Agriculture Agricultural Outlook Forum, Washington, DC, Feb. 24, 1997. By so doing, it established America as the dominant power in the world economy. The system was based on the premise that open markets contribute substantially to the maintenance of an enduring peace. It definitely was. "25 By 1998, transnationals and US financial firms were buying up Asian assets from Seoul to Bangkok at fire-sale prices. There are examples to draw from: A global pressure campaign by NGOs from both the North and the South on OECD governments prevented the adoption of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) by that body. 157-158. Summing up Washington's strategic goal, Jeff Garten. 1971 geriet der "Greenback" unter Druck, er landete gegenüber der D-Mark oft am unteren Interventionspunkt. In this paper we assess the outcomes of the London Summit and the UK government's progress towards the 12 recommendations set out by the Put People First platform in March 2009. 116-117. Jim Charoonpatarapong This is, of course, not to say that the struggle between advanced industrial countries, which revolved around the issue of free trade or protection, was not a central driving force for the establishment of the WTO. Beteiligt waren auch Länder wie Griechenland, Norwegen sowie Australien, federführend waren die Volkswirke John … The G20 London Summit on 2 April 2009 issued "a global plan for recovery and reform". In the case of Southeast Asia, for instance, limited gains for palm-oil interests in Malaysia and coconut oil exporters in Manila stemming from the Uruguay Round has been outbalanced by the tremendous damage imposed by liberalization on rice farmers in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. In the case of commodity price stabilization, it soon became apparent that the rich countries had replaced a strategy of confrontation with a Fabian, or evasive, strategy of frustrating concrete agreements. The IMF was conceived by John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White, the two pillars of the Bretton Woods meeting, as the guardian of global liquidity, a function that it was supposed to fulfil by monitoring member countries' maintenance of stable exchange rates and providing facilities on which they could periodically draw to overcome cyclical balance of payments difficulties. Central to the founding of the WTO were the twin drives of managing the trade rivalry among the leading industrial countries while containing the threat posed by the South to the prevailing global economic structure. In Brazil, where foreign-owned firms accounted for half of total manufacturing sales,9 the military-technocrat regime, invoking national security considerations, moved in the late 1970's to reserve the strategic information sector to local industries, provoking bitter denunciation from IBM and other US computer firms.10 In Mexico, where foreign firms accounted for nearly 30 per cent of manufacturing output,11 legal actions and threats of disinvestment by the powerful US drug industry followed the government's program for the pharmaceutical industry, which proposed no-patent policies, promotion of generic medicines, local development of raw materials, price controls, discriminatory incentives for local firms, and controls on foreign investment.12, Disturbing though these concessions and actions were, they could not compare in their impact with OPEC's second "oil shock" in 1979. While Northern environmental organizations are critical of the WTO owing to their fears that environmental standards in the North are being subordinated to free trade according to the principle of "free trade uber alles," as Ralph Nader calls it, the Southern countries have articulated their concerns about the GATT-WTO's anti-developmental thrust. The TRIPs regime provides a generalized minimum patent protection of 20 years; increases the duration of the protection for semi-conductors or computer chips; institutes draconian border regulations against products judged to be violating intellectual property rights; and places the burden of proof on the presumed violator of process patents. Featured speakers included Shang-Jin Wei, the N.T. Shalmali Guttal A decade after UNCTAD IV, only one new commodity stabilization agreement, for natural rubber, had been negotiated; an existing agreement on cocoa was not operative; and agreements on tin and sugar had collapsed.8, Right-wing Reaction and the Demonization of the South. Instead, the WTO institutionalizes free trade, the most favored nation principle, and national treatment as the pillars of the new world trading order. The US also went from being in surplus to running trade deficits. So the story continues: subsidized Northern producers that make a mockery of global free trade in agriculture fight for developing country markets, squeezing the non-subsidized farmers in the latter. Aileen Kwa First was a massive escalation in the World Bank's resources, with McNamara raising World Bank lending from an average of $2.7 billion a year when he took office in 1968 to $8.7 billion in 1978 to $12 billion by the time he left office in 1981. After a spike in the London price of gold to $40.50 in October 1960 – based on fears that John F Kennedy, if elected, would pursue inflati… %���� Fax: 662 255 9976 Monsanto is now enforcing its proprietary rights to the use of seeds from harvests produced by "Monsanto-improved" seeds purchased by farmers. Global Bank system c. Bretton Woods d. Basel Convention on Banking. The threat posed by TRIPs to Third World agrarian communities is no longer one that is simply looming on the horizon. By the beginning of the Uruguay Round in the mid-eighties, the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) had developed into what was described as "a complex web of price and sales guarantees, subsidies, and other support measures that largely insulated farmers' incomes from market forces."40. The Second World War was as much due to political reasons as was a result of economic fundamentalism on the part of the then … Dies war der Punkt, an dem die Bundesbank intervenieren musste, um den Dollar zu stützen. Beyond this, however, the project of making the UN agencies the pillars of an alternative global order is not going to result in success for a long, long time. stream The WTO, founded as a treaty among sovereign nations, is perhaps the most controversial of the core institutions of economic globalization. But no votes. Bernard Nossiter, The Global Struggle for More (New York: Harper and Row, 1987), pp. Resubordinating the South IV: Dismantling the UN Development System, This assault on the NICs via the IMF stabilization programs and on the broader South via Bretton Woods-imposed structural adjustment was accompanied by a major effort to emasculate the United Nations as a vehicle for the Southern agenda. The WTO was 46 years late in coming into being, though it had initially been regarded by liberal internationalists in the US and Britain as the third pillar of the Bretton Woods system, doing for trade what the IMF did for finance and the World Bank for economic reconstruction. A member country still retained the ability to alter its currency's value, if needed, to correct a "fundamental disequilibrium" in its current account balance. This attitude was recently epitomized for many by the resistance of key Northern countries led by the United States to the appointment of Thai Deputy Prime Minister Supachai Panitchpakdi as director general of the organization. A golden opportunity to push the US agenda opened up with the financial crisis, and Washington did not hesitate to exploit it to the hilt, advancing its interests behind the banner of free-market reform. Focus on the Global South (FOCUS) The third was an expansion and acceleration of foreign assistance, which, in UNCTAD's view, was not charity but "compensation, a rebate to the Third World for the years of declining commodity purchasing power. "21 As for the Southeast Asian countries, Washington's assessment was that while they might have liberalized their capital accounts and financial sectors, they remained highly protected when it came to trade and were dangerously flirting with "trade distorting" exercises in industrial policy, like Malaysia's national car project, the Proton Saga, or Indonesia's drive to set up a passenger aircraft industry. Karin Lissakers, Banks, Borrowers, and the Establishment: A Revisionist Account of the International Debt Crisis (New York: Basic Books, 1991), p. 56. Of course, the ideologues of the North will shout that this is tantamount to "anarchy." Economic Institutions Since World War II In this section we will: (1) Describe the Bretton Woods System. That a little money can go a long way, when funneled into the right instrument, is shown by the example of the UNDP Human Development Report, which is now seen as the magisterial authority in both the North and the South on the social and economic state of the world, no matter what the whole arsenal of World Bank publications says. The rise of OPEC, however, made World Bank aid and foreign aid less critical to many of the leading countries in UNCTAD and the Group of 77 in the mid-1970's, since they could gain access to massive quantities of loans that the commercial banks were only too happy to make available in their effort to turn a profit on the billions of dollars of deposits made to them by the OPEC countries. For decades, the Bretton Woods institutions have drawn hefty criticism for imposing "neoliberal" economic policies, involving financial deregulation, mass 1  But these are concessions that benefit mainly organized lobbies of cash-crop exporters and processors, such as Malaysian palm-oil plantations, big cocoa and coffee planters in Africa and Asia, and big sugar interests in the Caribbean. The Bretton Woods system itself collapsed in 1971, when President Richard Nixon severed the link between the dollar and gold — a decision made to prevent a run on Fort Knox, which contained only a third of the gold bullion necessary to cover the amount of dollars in foreign hands. US political and economic dominance necessitated the dollar being at the centre of the system. Earlier milestones in this process were the reorientation of the World Bank toward managing development in the South in the late fifties, the IMF's being turned into the watchdog of the external economic relations of Third World countries in the 1970's, the universalization of structural adjustment in the 1980's, and the unilateralist trade campaign waged against the Asian "tiger economies" by Washington beginning in the early eighties. Such concessions within the UN system were seen in the context of other developments in North-South relations, which appeared to show that the strategy of liberal containment spearheaded by the Bank in the area of economic relations had not produced what it promised to deliver: security for Western interests in the South through the co-optation of Third World elites. Das System von Bretton Woods bekam seinen Namen von dem Ort im US-Bundesstaat New Hampshire, in dem sich die Finanzminister und Notenbank-Präsidenten von insgesamt 44 Staaten, darunter die späteren Siegermächte des Zweiten Weltkriegs, vom 1. bis zum 22. 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