Coming to terms
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CTA. 2003. Coming to terms. Spore 103. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47840
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore103.pdf
With the clock already ticking uncomfortably fast on world trade talks, the CTA seminar on 'Meeting the challenge of effective ACP participation in international trade negotiations' came not a moment too soon, in late November 2002 in Brussels,...
With the clock already ticking uncomfortably fast on world trade talks, the CTA seminar on Meeting the challenge of effective ACP participation in international trade negotiations came not a moment too soon, in late November 2002 in Brussels, Belgium. For ACP countries, the challenge is to focus on two separate and moving targets: the European Union and its deals with the ACP group and regions, and the World Trade Organisation (see Spore 100). Almost within shouting distance of EU headquarters, this was one seminar in CTA s busy schedule which had no field visits to local projects. In Brussels, it is not the smell of the soil, field and farm which prevails but there is a difference that of power, with all its facets of negotiation, lobbying and trade interests. So it was the powerful, and the empowered and to-be-empowered, who came together and open-heartedly shared their positions, explaining differences and clarifying tactics. Among the 140-plus participants were negotiators at WTO and EU fora, policy-makers and representatives of regional organisations, support organisations for producers, processors and traders, resource centres on trade and information specialists. The meeting had been preceded by a lively electronic forum (with about 200 exchanges, a good level for this new mechanism), and provided with extensive documentation. It was no doubt the high quality of these preparations, plus the desire of all present for a productive meeting, which led to its open exchanges. The lawyers who defended both sides of the recent banana trade dispute biffed their tactics in public, like a Punch-and-Judy show; the NGOs who campaign to defend such ACP sectors as sugar got mightily mashed up by representatives of those very same sectors; and the fairly basic differences between, say, a pineapple grower and the people who are trying to decide our destiny got a good airing too. Then they moved on to the real business, laying the ground for building skills and networks. The event was covered by an on-site newspaper The Negotiator, also widely distributed by email, allowing followers from as far apart as Burkina Faso and Indonesia to be heard in Brussels. Its last issue sums up the results and sets the mood for the next steps (at the Ministerial session in Cancun, Mexico, in September 2003): 'It was a bit bristly at times, but it no doubt helped the participants to face the friendly argy-bargy and consensus (ABC) of the work to come.'. The printed report is due to be published in August 2003. Full documentation, including The Negotiator, online at: www.cta.int/ctaseminar2002