I note with interest the likely approval of Brazil’s ambassador to the World Trade Organization Dr Roberto Azevedo to the post of Director-General at the next meeting of the General Council of that body. This is a good departure from tradition where the heads of the other two most powerful global financial institutions ‒ the World Bank and the IMF ‒ are held by Europeans and Americans respectively. The time is long overdue for the democratization of these powerful world bodies to reflect the changing global dynamics and at the same time to give developing and emerging economies a greater say in the decision-making process.
The WTO is an important global institution to regulate world trade and commerce. Currently it is heavily biased in favour of the rich countries which continue to enjoy preferential treatment by way of protectionist policies. The Doha Round which was supposed to have made the playing field more level in so far as developing countries are concerned is still to be acted upon. Developing countries such as Guyana are still by and large price takers on the world market especially for agricultural produce. Huge subsidies to farmers in the United States and Europe are making it difficult for farmers in the developing world to compete on an even keel, not to mention the superior production and marketing technologies enjoyed by the developed countries.
One hopes that with the appointment of someone from an emerging economy there will be a higher level of appreciation and understanding of the issues and concerns of the smaller countries such as Guyana and other Caribbean economies. These countries depend heavily on export markets for their produce in particular agricultural products, due to the small size of their domestic markets.