Relocating Middle Powers: Australia and Canada in a Changing World Order

By Andrew F. Cooper; Richard A. Higgott et al. | Go to book overview

3
The Multilateral Economic Agenda: The Cairns Group and the Uruguay Round

Introduction

Relatively few studies are sensitive to the use of coalitions as vehicles for cooperation and regime-building in the global political economy. The major works that do discuss coalitions have, quite properly, focused principally on coalitions that involve a narrowly defined membership -- usually circumscribed by a similarity of attributes and location in the international order -- and are engaged in activities designed to secure a fundamental and wide-ranging change in the existing global structures of power. There is a need for studies which are more specifically and narrowly focused but which may, nevertheless, provide us with insight into broader theoretical questions about how to build cooperation in the global economic order on the one hand and the potential role of what we call 'non-hegemonic' actors in that process on the other. It is the purpose of this chapter to make a contribution to our understanding of these processes. Its focus is on what we see as an atypical coalition, a single-issue, cross-cutting group of like-minded states attempting to bring about change in one major area of the international trade regime.

The Cairns Group of Fair Trading Nations established itself as an international actor with considerable influence in the early part of the eighth round of multilateral trade negotiations that began at the Uruguayan resort of Punta del Este in 1986. 1 The Group was formed in Cairns, Australia, in August 1986; its main aim was to secure major reform in international agricultural trade. It was an economically and geographically diverse group from the four quadrants of the globe. Indeed, its very diversity makes it difficult to classify in terms of the traditional geopolitical criteria of North, South, East, and West. Our contention is that the emergence of the Cairns Group and its role in the

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