Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Of stakeholders and interests at the WTO

I had earlier blogged about a business survey conducted by the WTO to access how businesses feel about the WTO here. A more recent meeting took place reported here.

Pascal Lamy recently commenting on it said:
"What really makes this year’s exercise unique is the information from the private sector. More than 600 replies have been received so far and still counting. Particularly impressive though is the geographic spread. The replies have come in from over 120 countries and territories, from Antigua to Zimbabwe. But some are still missing; notably from several partner countries that replied in 2011. The final cut off is the end of this month and I would urge you to get your reply in.  And beware!  You may find that even if your government has not replied, your private sector has."
Another step by the WTO to broaden the base of stakeholder involvement? Today, governments are the only representative of varied stakeholder business interests at the multilateral institution. In dispute settlement, it is the State that represents the interests even though major business interests may be impacted. is there scope for more private sector involvement? Is the WTO attempting to create that window of opportunity to directly reach out to the business community? How will member country governments react? Should affected, private businesses have a greater role in the dispute settlement process? Should they bear the cost of litigation hen their interests are affected? Should public funds be used to protect private business interests? While the need for multi stakeholder consultations and involvement at the domestic level is a given, who should represent State interests at the international level? Many contend that multiple voices of civil society, business and non-state representatives should be heard. Others argue that they should be heard through the prism of the State since they may not be as representative as they claim to be but pursue their self interest. A debate of representation that is going to stay for some time.

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