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poverty and trade > newsfile > world bank trade policies under fire

World Bank trade policies under fire

Posted: 23 Mar 2006

A study by the World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) released yesterday concludes that the World Bank's strategies on trade did not deliver on employment and poverty reduction.

In a press release announcing the results of the new evaluation of the institution's work on trade liberalization, the the IEG comments that the Bank "was overly optimistic about the immediate and universal benefits of more open trade."

Commenting on the report, Alberto Villarreal of Friends of the Earth Uruguay said: "These findings confirm our daily experience. Policies to open markets have benefited the world's largest corporations, but have a devastating impact on millions of the world's poorest people."

"World Bank policies have placed serious constraints on the rights of governments and citizens to protect the environment and people at the national level, and on their ability to control the activities of transnational corporations," said David Waskow of Friends of the Earth in the United States.

Friends of the Earth International, the world's largest environmental federation, maintains that liberalised international trade is leading to social disruption, environmental damage and even hunger, especially in developing countries. "Small-scale farmers are particularly vulnerable to market opening pressures, and often forced from their land when it is converted to plantations or planted with crops for export", FOE says.

"For decades now, thousands of farmers and fisher folk have been on the streets demanding that their livelihoods and families be protected, but they have been ignored by the World Bank. Instead, this institution has allowed rich countries to pursue their own trade interests at the expense of the poor and the environment," added Mr. Villarreal.

The 270-page report analyzes the World Bank's trade work from 1987 through 2004, including lending and technical assistance. It concludes that: "Trade-related projects did not adequately attend to the poverty and distributional outcomes."

"The World Bank should get its act together and draw lessons from this review, which is repeating calls from local communities around the world. The World Bank should stop imposing trade policies that clearly fail to support the poor," according to Janneke Bruil of FOE International.

The evaluation was carried out by the Bank's Independent Evaluation Group (IEG), an autonomous body reporting directly to the Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank that assesses the effectiveness of the Bank's development efforts.


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