Cancun impact felt in Dubai
THE tone and tenor of the failed Fifth World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Cancun found an echo in the annual meetings of the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Dubai from September 20 to 22. The developing countries reiterated their demand that the industrialised world should get rid of trade distorting agricultural subsidies, which are currently in excess of us $300 billion per year.
Brazil's finance minister, Antonio Palocci, said the protectionist practices of the industrialised countries "appear as intolerable hypocrisy to poor citizens of the developing world'. wb president James Wolfensohn gave out a call to "rebalance our world', in what was widely described as the most powerful speech since he took over in 1995. "At Cancun, developing countries signalled their determination to push for a new equilibrium,' he stated.
This bloc's plea for greater participation in the wb's decision-making process rose to a crescendo during the meets. The developing committee of the wb and imf saw a bitter battle over three issues:
The shareholding pattern of member countries in the institutions
The need for greater representation from Africa
The us-European domination of the top jobs in the wb and imf (for six decades now, the bank's president has always been from the us and the imf's managing director has come from Europe).
As an agreement seemed out of sight, decisions on these matters were postponed until the next annual meetings.
The dramatic protests that have come to mark such international occasions were conspicuous by their absence. There were two reasons for this: one, the activist groups were not able to regroup after their show of strength in Cancun. And, two, unprecedented security arrangements made by the Dubai authorities acted as a deterrent. This was the first time that the annual meetings were held in the Arab world, and Dubai was determined to keep them trouble-free.
Non-governmental organisations were assigned a corner within the convention centre. Three bodies