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    Doha: How Business Can Benefit


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 3/2002

    Advocacy for trade development - why, how, when, with whom - is the underlying theme of this issue of Trade Forum, which explores how business can benefit from the Doha Development Agenda.

    The current WTO negotiations, due to end on 1 January 2005, offer a window of opportunity to the business sector in developing countries and transition economies to shape new trade rules. The last WTO Ministerial Conference (Doha, November 2001) and the resulting Doha Ministerial Declaration put the needs and interests of developing countries at the heart of the negotiations. Yet too few business leaders in these countries understand the opening this gives them in trade negotiations.

    The GATS review process, for example, gives exporters the chance - before March 2003 - to influence national liberalization offers related to services. Do exporters and services associations know how to take advantage of this? In another example: sanitary and phytosanitary measures, which relate to trade in fresh and processed agricultural goods, affect many developing countries. Is business telling the right parties what assistance they need to export the products with the greatest potential?

    Business communities in developing and transition economies have been able to advocate successfully to improve their competitive position in international markets. What lessons can we learn from their experiences? Businesses need to know more about the WTO rules. They need to understand that effective advocacy is based on clear strategy and dialogue among a wide range of industry sectors, as well as government, academia, industry associations and international organizations.

    Successful business advocacy does more than promote narrow interests. In the long term, the government-business dialogue is the foundation for an export-competitive trade environment that contributes to overall development and reduces poverty.

    In exploring the "why" and "how" of business advocacy for developing and transition economies, this edition of Trade Forum covers all the above points and more. We welcome, as always, your comments, and hope that this issue will help you and your network to reap more of the benefits of the global trading system.