Is it really true that the trade agreements pursued in the World Trade Organisation and through regional negotiations are vital for eliminating world poverty and achieving a sustainable future? Or is trade liberalization the villain of the piece? Clive George's provocative book examines the evidence, exposes the myths, and presents challenging new proposals for comprehensive reform of the global trading system. Based on ten years of in-depth research into the impacts of trade agreements on sustainable development, it reveals that few of the claims made by the major players stand up to scrutiny, while many of the counter-claims lack rigour in their analysis of key issues. It cuts through the rhetoric with illuminating anecdotes from the author's experience of working with trade negotiators, to present a more realistic view of their motives and the outcomes they achieve. Each of the components of the negotiation agenda is examined in turn, to identify the most likely economic, social and environmental impacts of liberalising trade in manufactured goods, agriculture, services, investment, intellectual property rights and the other rules by which trade is governed. In some cases the rhetoric approximates to reality while in many others the negotiated outcomes do more harm than good to both development and its environmental sustainability.
From its analysis of the relationships between trade, social transformation, economic growth and environmental integrity, the book concludes with proposals for how the world trade regime might be reformed to help tackle the world's most pressing problems instead of making them worse.
Clive George followed a career in industrial management before joining the University of Manchester to undertake research and consultancy on the use of impact assessment techniques in international development. As a Senior Research Fellow in the University's School of Environment and Development he was principal advisor to the World Bank on the evaluation and development of impact assessment systems in the Middle East and North Africa and has acted as a consultant to the OECD, UNEP and other international agencies. Through his work for UNEP and the European Commission he has become one of the world's leading experts on assessing the economic, social and environmental impacts of international trade agreements. His books include 'Environment and the City' (Routledge, 2008) with Peter Roberts and Joe Ravetz and 'Environmental Assessment in Developing and Transitional Countries' (John Wiley & Sons, 2000) with Norman Lee. He has published numerous articles on sustainable development, impact assessment, global governance and international trade.