The Truth about Trade
The Real Impact of Liberalization
Is it really true that the trade agreements pursued in the World Trade Organisation and through regional negotiations are vital for eliminating world poverty and achieving a sustainable future? Or is trade liberalization the villain of the piece? Clive George's provocative book examines the evidence, exposes the myths, and presents challenging new proposals for comprehensive reform of the global trading system. Based on ten years of in-depth research into the impacts of trade agreements on sustainable development, it reveals that few of the claims made by the major players stand up to scrutiny, while many of the counter-claims lack rigour in their analysis of key issues. It cuts through the rhetoric with illuminating anecdotes from the author's experience of working with trade negotiators, to present a more realistic view of their motives and the outcomes they achieve. Each of the components of the negotiation agenda is examined in turn, to identify the most likely economic, social and environmental impacts of liberalising trade in manufactured goods, agriculture, services, investment, intellectual property rights and the other rules by which trade is governed. In some cases the rhetoric approximates to reality while in many others the negotiated outcomes do more harm than good to both development and its environmental sustainability.
From its analysis of the relationships between trade, social transformation, economic growth and environmental integrity, the book concludes with proposals for how the world trade regime might be reformed to help tackle the world's most pressing problems instead of making them worse.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'Trade and trade liberalization on its own and as practiced today will not necessarily result in a more sustainable future. This is what the arguements and in-depth analysis in this interesting and thought provoking publication provide. It is a recommended reading for practitioners, trade negotiators, and policy makers concerned about making trade an effective tool for facilitating the transition to more green and sustainable economies.'
Hussein Abaza, Economics and Trade Branch
'Clive George was at the centre of the EU's ten-year research programme into the impacts of trade liberalization. Now he is able to reveal the true findings of that research. This careful assessment of the evidence shows how trade liberalization threatens economic development, anti-poverty programmes and environmental sustainability in the vast majority of developing countries, with potentially catastrophic results. This book is an important corrective to the myth that free trade will lift millions out of poverty. It should become required reading for all people seeking to understand the truth about trade.'
John Hilary, War on Want
'Finally, an empirically-based assessment of the trade and globalization process that does not veer left or right, but moves the debate forward!'
Kevin P. Gallagher, Boston University
'George also discusses harms from intellectual-property agreements, competition and investment policies, and regional trade agreements, before suggesting some reforms to make policy in "the global interest", and to mitigate "biodiversity loss" and global warming. "Scientific rigour tends to be unpopular with decision-makers, who generally use the studies to support their own proposals and may prefer not to know how far from the truth the results might be." Perhaps they have somewhat less of an excuse now.'
Stephen Poole, The Guardian
'...a tour de force from a practitioner in the field, which is likely to shock, and rightly so, all those wedded to the ideology of neo-liberalism.'
P. Pacheco-Lopez, University of Kent