Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Lamy wants more! Why!?!?!

Well, depending on who you are, the good or bad news is that it was announced from the WTO website that it's current director, Pascal Lamy, will be seeking reelection in 2009.

Lamy presided over a failed Doha Round of trade negotiations, where agreements on subsidies on agriculture, was the key sticking point- again- and over a process, which got deeper in terminology and sophisticated measures and counter-measures, with little or no results. I wonder how much did it cost, over time, to run an operation with such suit's, counter-suit's and appellate investigation's as had the WTO in the last 3 years? Has to be in the hundreds of millions!

Aside from an organizational and direction standpoint of Lamy's lack of leadership. He is not, in my view, a significant figure of resolve, in the time where the world trading and financial system, is in need of an overhaul and re-tooling. It may be best that Lamy sit it out this time. He has not brought 'positive' change to the WTO. And, in fact, he has let members run willy nilly, with no firm direction or vision from his directorate's leadership position. He allowed emerging economies to set the agenda and he allowed the USA, to bi-pas critical standards on tariff rates and the countervailing duties of the Byrd Amendment. Not to forget, how the EU, slipped into bi-lateral negotiations, rather than waiting on the WTO directorate, to sort out differences in trade imbalances and build alliances within the multi-lateral the rules based system. Basically, he was a benign director, with little or no impact on any relevant trade issue.

Alas, he has been on the talk circuit- and no doubt the private cocktail circuit- with speeches and pontifications, on how things should be and what is needed to push the Doha Development Agenda along. Most recently his speech to the Geneva Shipping Industry, for Commodities Week.
Through all of this however, he has been giving the public a 'realistic' view on trade matters, especially in regards to the winners and losers; which the latter, there are, will be and will always be, significant losers. We, as the general public, have to face up to that fact and, if only to save his skin and reputation, he has been a bulwark for such refreshing truth- even though he still sides against world economist's like Robert Wade and the new Nobel Prize winner, Paul Krugman, with free-trade as a panacea to development; especially in regards to developing countries.

But, even more distressing, Lamy's sterility as a leader, is ever more emphasised in a "French-friendly" global led system and environment. IMF Directorate/ECB Commissioner's office/Deputy EU Commissioner's office/Presidency of the EU...ALL led by Frenchmen. And, the kicker is, the foremost political organization on economic development, the OECD, is based in Paris France. Lamy, had no excuse not to get a deal on Doha, even if developing countries were still kicking and crying; most notable, India and Brazil.

So, I guess you can read by this blog that, while I am no fan of unfettered free-trade, Lamy has not been a good steward of his institution and I think, as with the US presidency, we need a change.

Just my opinion!

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