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Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN) Economic Justice Network (EJN)

Regional Strategy Meeting on

Hong Kong Trade Ministerial Conference Outcomes: Implications for Poverty Reduction in SADC

Date: 6-7 April 2006, Gauteng, South Africa

Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN), Economic Justice Network (EJN)

To what extent are the outcomes of Hong Kong contributing to poverty reduction efforts in SADC?

[Background]  [Concept note]  [Presentations and Papers]  [Report]
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Day I: Welcoming ceremony and opening session

In the opening session, participants were welcomed and given an overview of the objectives and guiding questions for the workshop. It was suggested that while the focus of the workshop was on trade, any discussion on poverty reduction had to trace and connect the various linkages between trade, economic justice and sustainable development.

Three objectives were identified for the workshop:

  • To review the outcomes of the Hong Kong Ministerial (HKM).
  • To analyse their impact on poverty reduction policies in our region.
  • To evaluate how effective our strategies are in influencing the WTO. Since we are all working towards a more just and better world, we need to critically reflect how we are engaging and what progress we are making.
Furthermore, it was suggested that the following questions should frame the discussions:

  • How do we build momentum to ensure a consistent focus on trade issues and the WTO? Thus far, our engagement has been ad hoc and too reactive prior to ministerial meetings.
  • How do we engage with our governments on trade and influence them to adopt strong developmental positions (and keep to them)? At the HKM, many African NGOs were part of government delegations. How do we empower these NGOs so that they are not co-opted, but strengthen the delegations?
  • How do we broaden and build a movement around trade justice? Since trade is a very complex and technical matter, we need to focus more on its political and social basis and thus involve more people.
  • How do we discuss trade in its broader context? It is not only about the WTO, but also about bilateral and regional negotiations (such as the US-SACU FTA and the EPAs).
Participants raised various expectations for the workshop. These included the following:

  • To provide a political economy analysis and understanding of the HKM outcomes.
  • To bring the poor back into the debate, and to integrate issues of human rights, gender and social justice.
  • To build networks and alliances in the trade sector and assist with regional coordination.
  • To develop more sustainable, home-grown solutions to the trade crisis.
  • To understand how better to engage with national governments.
  • To share experiences, learn what others are doing, and develop practical campaign strategies.
  • To identify strategies to influence the policies of the industrialised countries, and work with UNCTAD to protect developing countries.
  • To provide a business perspective on the WTO.
  • To ensure that HIV/AIDS is brought to the fore in discussions on trade and the WTO.

* Rapporteur: Brendan Vicker, Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD) Johannesburg, South Africa

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