A Critique of the EC's WTO Sustainability Impact Assessment Study and Recommendations for Phase III

Please download to get full document.

View again

of 13
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Information Report
Category:

Documents

Published:

Views: 8 | Pages: 13

Extension: PDF | Download: 0

Share
Related documents
Description
In 1999 the European Commission commissioned the University of Manchester to conduct a Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) of the WTO’s proposed Millennium Round. The study aims to develop a methodology for carrying out SIAs and to use this methodology to make a broad assessment of the potential impacts (positive and negative effects) upon the sustainability of the proposed New Round. In addition the study was intended to provide ideas on how best to maximise the positive impacts of the expected liberalisation or rule making.
Transcript
    A “Critique” of the EC’s WTO Sustainability Impact Assessment Study   and Recommendations for Phase III   March 2000 This paper was commissioned from Sarah Richardson of Maeander Enterprises Ltd on behalf of the following organisations: Oxfam GB, WWF-European Policy Office, Save the Children, ActionAid  A “Critique” of the EC’s WTO Sustainability Impact Assessment Study and Recommendations for Phase III Introduction In 1999 the European Commission commissioned the University of Manchester to conduct a Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) of the WTO’s proposed Millennium Round. The study aims to develop a methodology for carrying out SIAs and to use this methodology to make a broad assessment of the potential impacts (positive and negative effects) upon the sustainability of the proposed New Round. In addition the study was intended to provide ideas on how best to maximise the positive impacts of the expected liberalisation or rule making. The preliminary assessment presented in Phase II has two main purposes: (i) to resolve any remaining uncertainties concerning which impacts (from the screening and scoping stages) are to be recorded as  potentially significant or non significant, and (ii) to differentiate between impacts of lesser significance (to be shown as “1”) and greater significance (to be shown as “2”) in the matrices for individual measures and in the combined matrix for the proposed new Round as a whole (involving the conversion of potentially significant impacts into a +/- 1 or +/-2). In addition, the Phase II study contains a preliminary, illustrative list of mitigatory and enhancing measures that might be adopted in order to mitigate potential negative impacts and enhance positive ones. Oxfam GB, WWF, Save the Children and ActionAid welcome the decision of the European Commission to undertake a Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) of trade negotiations at the WTO. It is one of the few ongoing efforts to assess the impacts of trade liberalisation from the perspective of sustainability, including economic, environmental and social components. It is important for the European Commission and EU member states to develop a common methodology for SIAs, as these will inevitably become essential for improving transparency and accountability in EU trade policy-making. Being the first time that the sustainability impacts of an international trade agreement have  been reviewed in the EU, we recognise the efforts made by the Commission to overcome the inherent complexity of such an undertaking. We appreciate this effort and the opportunity to comment on the strengths and weaknesses of the approach as it unfolds, with a view to encouraging the most effective analysis as it continues into Phase III.   Comments have been structured around four key components of assessments:   (i) Scope and structure (ii) Timing (iii) Sustainability Indicators (iv) Policy Measures 1  Summary  (i) Scope and structure ã The framework is broad in its scope covering 15 separate issues associated with WTO liberalisation. The trade-off for this breadth is that the analysis across the 15 issues is relatively undeveloped and there is no sense of priorities. ã The framework is built on the assumption that growth will be promoted by multilateral trade liberalisation and that this is desirable. As such, a pro-liberalisation bias is built into the analysis from the start limiting consideration of alternative scenarios such as no-further trade liberalisation or trade in a different form. ã The analysis is limited to WTO liberalisation and as such does not take into account, or control for, change that might be occurring as a result of regional trade agreements, international economic forces or autonomous social or environmental factors, that might impact on the sustainability of WTO liberalisation. ã The study offers no rigorous process, including impacts of scale, to link impacts of trade-induced change to indicators of sustainability. ã The assessment of impacts, based on a five-point scale is overly simplified and the study does not offer guidance as to how judgements are made, or how to determine if an impact is more or less significant. (ii) Timing ã The technique used for coping with uncertainty (three scenarios) needs further development. ã It might be useful to consider the addition of intermediate scenarios beyond the EU negotiating  position. ã The study might develop scenario one (Uruguay Round) into a baseline scenario from where additional change can be measured and in order to learn lessons based, where possible on available empirical evidence that can be applied to the assessment of the current negotiations. (iii) Sustainability Indicators ã The choice of indicators of sustainability are overly limited and do not apply equally to, or take into account, different situations in the different country groupings identified in the study or the different measures identified for analysis. ã There is no clear rationale presented for choosing the indicators in the study. 2  (iv) Policy Measures ã An SIA is not an academic exercise and the policy prescriptions and recommendations are crucial. ã There is a pro-liberalisation bias built into the selection criteria for choosing M & E measures. This is in part a function of the assumptions underlying the study, but in part built in to the criteria themselves. ã There is no allowance in the M & E measures for integrated policy options or an allowance for  policy options that suggest less trade liberalisation, or different trade liberalisation. ã Priority should be given to M & E measures which can be promoted through EU programmes,  policies and instruments, such as development co-operation .   1. Scope and Structure This framework is to be commended for its attempt to be comprehensive in including and considering equally economic, environmental and social impacts flowing from trade liberalisation. In addition, the framework takes into account the fact that the concept of sustainable development is something that must be considered over the long term. It allows for the incorporation of a concern for inter-generational equity by considering how impacts vary over time, including those that take place in the long term (after 15 years). The framework attempts to deal with the distributional effects of trade liberalisation considering impacts for three groups of countries: (i) developing countries and least developed countries, (ii) the European Union, and (iii) the world as a whole. Its separate focus on developing countries is well taken, given the disproportionate impact WTO-based liberalisation could have on that group of countries. It seeks to include distributional effects within and across countries, by the major categories of class, gender, and locale (even if the latter receives only a brief analysis in practice). This approach is encouraging as it recognises the importance of identifying differences between impacts in developing and developed countries in order to contribute to the development of policies that take into account those important variations in levels of development. However, there are trade-offs that exist in the actual development and initial application of the framework. The study makes a useful selection of key factors and dimensions by which to guide the analysis. However, this approach could benefit from considering a few key dimensions that lie outside the overall framework as well as refocusing some of those that are included. First, the study is built around an assumption that implicitly limits the scope of its analysis in a way that makes the methodology appear unbalanced. The focus of this framework is the new round of multilateral trade negotiations and the terms of reference for the study state that “For this exercise, it is taken as a basic working assumption that non-inflationary growth world-side will be boosted by multilateral trade liberalisation and rule making, and that this is desirable.” Instead, the SIA process should be informing political decisions on whether and when a new WTO round should start and how it should unfold, and how comprehensive it should be. 3
Recommended
View more...
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks