miércoles, junio 13, 2007

Una daga clavada en los países en desarrollo

El nombramiento de Robert Zoellick al frente del Banco Mundial, luego de la salida telenovelesca del inefable Paul Wolfowitz por sus corruptelas de pareja no tiene al mundo contento. Jagdish Bhagwati, reconocido economista internacional de la Universidad de Columbia, afirmó que él representa una "daga clavada en los países en desarrollo".

Bhagwati argumenta que la política de acuerdos comerciales bilaterales que impulsó Zoellick cuando estuvo al frente de la Oficina del Representante Comercial de Estados Unidos (USTR, por sus siglas en inglés), estuvo orientada a extraer preferencias de países pequeños aislándolos uno a uno, al tiempo que se debilitaba el sistema de liberalización multilateral.

"I think his [appointment] is a dagger drawn at the developing countries," Jagdish Bhagwati, an economist at Columbia, told me. Bhagwati is hardly a man of the far left; he has written books defending free trade against anti-globalization activists. But he points out that Zoellick's tenure as USTR involved a much heavier focus on bilateral deals with developing countries than on broad multilateral trade agreements.

The idea, Bhagwati says, was to allow the United States to negotiate with poorer countries one-on-one in order to force them to accept demands unrelated to trade. "He was using bilateral deals with Chile and Singapore to try to ram through restrictions on the use of capital controls," Bhagwati says. "I can't think of a single developmental economist who would say this is a good idea, and it suggests a cavalier interest in developing countries."

Moreover, Zoellick's Office of the USTR often put economic development at the service of the Bush administration's foreign policy. Before the invasion of Iraq, a trade official darkly hinted that the administration would have a "long memory" when it came to those who crossed it. That year, Zoellick scotched a trade deal with New Zealand, which had opposed the war — while fast-tracking a deal with Australia, which had backed it. He also reacted angrily when Egypt balked at supporting a U.S. challenge to Europe's ban on genetically modified foods, announcing that the country had jeopardized its hopes of a free-trade agreement.

(En The New Republic, vía Dani Rodrik´s Blog)

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