Cancun Conundrum

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | September 24, 2003

The Fifth Ministerial Conference of World Trade Organization (WTO) held in Cancun during September 10-14, 2003, failed to arrive at any agreement on several contentious issues. Since Cancun Conference was expected to provide a further push to the Doha Round, both the proponents and critics were apprehensive about its outcome. To many critics, Cancun Conference was destined to be a failure as the mandated deadlines (for agreement on the modalities on agriculture, special and differential treatment, implementation issues, and TRIPs and public health), agreed upon at the Fourth Ministerial Conference at Doha in 2001, were missed. But the way Ministerial Conference collapsed at Cancun has surprised everyone. As anticipated, the trade talks did…

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Keep Investment Pacts off Cancun’s Agenda

By Kavaljit Singh | Op-Ed, Financial Times | July 7, 2003

If the European Union, Japan and Canada have their way, negotiations for a multilateral investment agreement will begin at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Cancun in September. But many developing countries are doing everything they can to ensure they do not. They are right to do so: an MIA has the potential to cause them serious economic damage.

There is no conclusive evidence that investment agreements lead to increased foreign investment. Since the 1980s, developing countries have signed numerous bilateral investment agreements, yet they receive less than one-third of the world’s total foreign direct investment flows. Africa, consisting of 53 countries, receives less than 2 per cent of the total FDI flows to…

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The Never Ending Story of Coke’s Divestment

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | September 20, 2011

In its latest attempts to dilute the divestment conditions, Coke has sought permission from the Indian authorities to deny voting rights to the Indian shareholders. The proposal of offering voting rights to Indian shareholders is “substantive and onerous,” says the company. In a letter (dated January 23, 2003) addressed to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), Coke has sought deletion of the condition under which its bottling subsidiary, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Limited (HCCBPL), is bound to provide 49 per cent voting rights to resident Indian shareholders.

Coke was granted permission to carry out business in India through its 100 per cent owned subsidiary with the condition…

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Trading Away Capital Controls under Bilateral Trade Agreements

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | April 13, 2003

The sinister move by the US to curb the use of capital controls under the guise of just concluded bilateral trade agreements with Chile and Singapore has not received adequate attention. America’s economic predominance – and the resulting shape of the global economy – has long rested on a combination of bullying, threats and inducements, but recent US bilateral trade deals signed with Chile and Singapore hint at something entirely more sinister. This is because both agreements include strict financial conditions alongside aggressive safeguards for intellectual property which go beyond multilateral benchmarks agreed by the World Trade Organization.

The fact that Chile and Singapore have agreed to surrender the use of capital controls in return for more favorable market access should set…

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Microcredit Myths: No Lending Hand for the Poor

By Kavaljit Singh | Op-Ed, Times of India | January 30, 2003

Historically, women’s groups and NGOs initiated microcredit programmes at local levels as one component of the development strategy to empower poor women. But nowadays microcredit is no longer a localised activity. For banks and financial institutions, microcredit offers new avenues of profit-making since interest rates range from 20 to 40 per cent and repayment rates are over  90 per cent, far above commercial lending. This economic logic makes the poor more attractive to banks and financial institutions, but not vice-versa. Even agricultural and consumer goods companies have jumped onto the microcredit bandwagon to penetrate rural markets.

In this context, the Microcredit Summit +5 was held in New York recently to take stock of the commitments made at…

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