Partner: CUTS International
Involvement of civil society in trade negotiations under WTO is necessary not only to create broader ownership of outcomes of those negotiations, but to seek advice from stakeholders on domestic preparedness around such initiatives. Governments in South Asia are criticized by civil society about lack of transparency in trade negotiations. Very often the lack of domestic preparedness is attributed to weak negotiation terms by home governments. It is in this context that SDPJ and its partner organizations in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka with the support of Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) carried out a three year policy research and advocacy on the five crucial issues in WTO negotiations: Agriculture, Non Agriculture Market Access, Trade in Services, Trade Facilitation and Development Dimensions of trade.
Liberalization of trade in services and domestic preparedness in the services sector of Pakistan was the focus of research during 2007-08. The research findings of Pakistan Case Study were published in “South Asian Positions in the WTO Doha Round: In Search of a True Development Agenda, Volume 2” by CUTS International.
It was observed through research studies that civil society (including media, trader’s community, NGOs, academia, and chambers of commerce) does not have any say in trade negotiations. This results in lack of ownership and lack of domestic preparedness.
In order to strengthen the capacity of civil society including the media and to broaden the knowledge base of academia, policy makers and researchers, two national consultative workshops were organized during the reporting period to discuss the findings of the research. A regional workshop was also held in Dhaka, Bangladesh in January 2008 for mutual learning among South Asian Project Partners. SDPI is facilitated a dialogue between economic managers among government and civil society representatives. Two in camera sessions were arranged to discuss these issues with parliamentarians of the ruling alliance.
Ministry of Commerce WTO Cell sought SDPI’s input on regulatory aspects of services sector as well as on a progress report related to services sector that is prepared by ITA and MOC under an EU funded project.