Education International
Education International

USTR attacks NGOs for criticizing WTO

published 13 February 2008 updated 13 February 2008

The U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab has lashed out against non-governmental organizations for their criticisms of WTO trade talks.

“Well-meaning NGOs [are] providing advice to developing countries, or political opponents in developing countries, that fly in the face of sound economic theory and practice,” Schwab told a gathering of economists at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars this month.

She argued that many developing countries are now heeding the advice of NGO’s and are growing reluctant to open up their domestic markets. Schwab warned against this, saying the evidence shows that developing countries that lowered trade barriers grew three times faster in the last decade than those that did not.

However, the United Nations Committee on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has joined many NGOs in warning that developing nations need to “think carefully” before entering into free trade agreements with the developed world. In its 2007 Trade and Development Report issued last September, UNCTAD says that such agreements have often failed to produce any long-term benefits and can in fact disadvantage development objectives by placing restrictions on the ability of governments to promote long-term growth.