Poverty and Social Analysis of Trade Agreements: A More Coherent Approach?
The collapse of trade negotiations in Cancun in September 2003 shook confidence in both the Doha Development Agenda and the commitments of industrialized countries and international economic institutions to pursue “coherent” trade and development policies. This Article critically examines the dual commitments of development institutions, especially the World Bank, to trade liberalization and poverty reduction, and the challenges to achieving “policy coherence” through trade “mainstreaming,” “capacity building,” and “impact assessments.” In particular, the Article considers the feasibility of adapting existing tools for poverty and social analysis to assess trade policies and agreements. The Article uses gender as one possible lens through which to analyze the potential impacts of trade policies on vulnerable groups in developing countries. While recognizing their limitations, the Article supports the development of practical tools for poverty and social analysis for use by government trade offices and other ministries, development institutions, research institutes, and civil society groups in developing countries. However, for these tools to be useful, developing countries must have the “policy space” to choose the trade policy options that best support their poverty reduction strategies and broad development goals.Read More