Covering Globalization: A Handbook for Reporters

By Anya Schiffrin; Amer Bisat | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY
INTERNATIONAL
TRADE

NICHOLAS ROSEN AND
HELEN CAMPBELL

TRADE USED to be a dry, arcane subject best left to experts who argued over the details of lengthy and complex international agreements. But in recent years, the international-trade-policy debate has become one of the hottest topics a journalist can cover. International trade—the now of goods and services across borders—affects the lives of vast numbers of people around the world in profound and different ways. At the national and international level, it is one of the most important—and contentious—issues of the day. The antiglobalization protests at the World Trade Organization Summit in Seattle (1999), and the WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun (2003) have put the trade policy debate in headlines around the world. The burning questions that government officials, nongovernmental organizations, and economists argue about are how important trade is to overall economic development amd whether the current trade arrangements allow countries to maximize their gains from trade. There is also disagreement about what sorts of subjects should be included in trade negotiations and unhappiness on the part of developing countries who do not like the way the talks are conducted, as they are often pressured to sign agreements that they do not believe they will benefit from. Related to this is the fact that developing countries are often at a disadvantage during trade negotiations, as they do not have the same number of trade experts and lawyers that developed countries have.

Proponents argue that freer trade would contribute to higher overall levels of wealth, which would benefit the global economy and its inhabitants. But free-trade skeptics believe that the current trade arrangements are unfair and will not help developing countries grow.

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