FEATS Project

In an event to foster economic growth and boost the economies of least developed countries, by pursuing economic equality and social justice within and across borders, Consumer Unit and Trust Society (CUTS) Geneva and Lusaka have launched a project called Fostering Equity and Accountability in the Trading System (FEATS).

The project which was launched on 16th July 2008 at CUTS Geneva Resource Centre in Geneva, Switzerland attracted a delegation of government officials form member countries such as Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda, Civil Society organisations, delegates from missions of project countries in Geneva, and staff of CUTS Resource Centre from India, Geneva, London, Lusaka and Nairobi.

FEATS, a three year project will ensure and enhance positive linkages between trade and development in Africa by developing the capacity of governments to proactively respond to trade issues, including through their involvement in policy research.

The project is being undertaken in two phases and broadly aims at addressing the core issue of raising awareness for better coherence between development and trade policies thus contributing to economic development and poverty reduction in project countries.

It is believed that the organically linked activities related to research, advocacy and networking will further build the capacity of stakeholders within the project, and in particular the capacity of governments in participating countries to better understand and participate in and derive benefits from international trading system, thereby improving equality and accountability of the system.

The project will also generate a more coherent and pro-trade development voice in the formulation and implementation of trade and development policy issues both at national and international level. It will further advocate with trade officials in Geneva and in national capitals by establishing robust, two way linkages between activists in project countries.

It is with no doubt that the FEATS project will also try to advocate participation of Least Developing Countries (LDCs) such as Zambia and Developing Countries in the negotiations at World Trade Organisation Level (WTO) to address situations like the one witnessed at the collapsed WTO talks in July where these countries had little means to participate in and contribute to the negotiations.

Nevertheless, the flop of WTO ministerial talks should not be seen as the end but as a strengthener to the Doha development agenda, I further urge the developed countries to meticulously assess the outcome of the meeting and prepare for reengagements on all WTO rules without discrimination.

More than 30 trade ministers had gathered in Geneva for almost nine days to agree on modalities of tariff reduction in agricultural and industrial goods and subsidy capping in agriculture in order to move the Doha Round that has languished like its predecessor the Uruguay Round, for seven years now. Among the reasons for the collapse was failure to compromise on farm import rules by China, United States and India.