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The poor folk can play hardball too
The French hate the Americans. The Americans loathe the French. Developing countries wonderwhat on earth is going on. The spat within Nato over what to do about Saddam Hussein? No, this isan issue that it would take more than one Hans Blix to sort out - the Doha round of trade talks.
It was not supposed to be like this, of course. As the planes dropped their payloads onAfghanistan, the talk was not just of being tough on terrorism, tough on the causes ofterrorism. The trade ministers who gathered in Qatar in November 2001 were under serious pressure torepair the damage from the disastrous Seattle meeting two years earlier by committing themselvesto opening up markets. Failure was too tough to contemplate: it would represent victory for theterrorists.
As the events of the weekend highlighted, the US and Britain are still keen on prosecuting the war againstterrorism. The carriers are moving to the Gulf. The planes are being armed with their hi-tech weaponry.
The ground troops are preparing for an invasion. We can see every night on TV how the US is preparing todeal with Saddam. Much less, however, is heard about the other side of the equation, how breakingdown protectionist barriers will lead to faster development. Terrorism breeds in conditions ofpoverty, so making countries richer makes us all safer.
That, at least, was the theory. But it is now 15 months since the launch of the Doha round and progresshas been painfully slow. Should it come to war against Saddam, the hope in both the White Houseand Downing Street is that it will be short and decisive.
No such optimism is to be found in the corridors of the WTO on the shore of Lac Léman on the outskirtsof Geneva. There, last week, it was abundantly clear that the talks are going nowhere fast. Negotiationsare like a game of three-dimensional chess conducted by more than 140 players paying only lip-service to deadlines.
The stalemate in Geneva exposes one of the myths about the WTO; that it is really Spectre indisguise, a body bent on world domination led by an evil mastermind from his lair in a hollowed-outvolcano. In reality, the WTO is no different from any other international bureaucracy in that it takes ordersfrom its member governments. If there are any Dr Evil characters bent on the immiseration of developingcountries through dastardly trade policies they are the ones responsible for the common agricultural policyor those in Washington who kowtow to the US drugs industry. There are three big problems with the talks.
The first is that progress requires policymakers to be fully engaged in the process and to demonstrate,through a willingness to cut deals, a shared interest in pushing ahead with the agenda. Even
before the recent falling out between the US on one side and Germany and France on the other over Iraqand Nato, it was clear that no such willingness is apparent. George Bush has other things on hisplate; likewise Tony Blair, who in other circumstances would be expected to urge faster progress on theDoha round, and Gerhard Schröder. Jacques Chirac, fearful of France's farmers, has no real incentiveto speed things up.
The spat over Saddam has made matters worse. There were some hopeful signs last week that a deal onproviding affordable life-saving drugs for poor countries might be finally agreed in Genevatomorrow following concessions designed to mollify the fears of big American drugs companies thattheir patents would be infringed willy-nilly by low-cost producers in India and Brazil.
But as one official put it: "The White House is very involved in this issue. The US drugs industry is involvedthrough the White House." In the circumstances, there are doubts about whether Bush will be willing tosign up to a deal which - despite the new safeguards - would be seen as a climbdown. There isconsiderable frustration with the tough American stance in Geneva, where an agreement on drugs isseen as a way of breaking the logjam.
Officials openly scoff at some of the points raised by the US, particularly that the new system may beabused so that poor people in Africa would be demanding cut-price Viagra. "If you've got Aids and malaria,you're really not that worried about erectile dysfunction," one said. "You really don't live long enough for itbe a problem." Moreover, any watering down of patent protection in the world's poorest countries willhave scant impact on the profitability of the multinational drugs companies, which make the lion'sshare of their money in the US itself. A deal on drugs for poor countries should be a win-win play - betterhealthcare, no risk of damage to research and development of new drugs, and a sign of good intentfrom the west that might help kickstart the talks.
The second problem is the sheer scale and complexity of the agenda. As ever, the core of thenegotiations concern market access - breaking down the system of tariffs and other barriers, such asquotas - that restrict trade. But there are also attempts to liberalise trade in services and agriculture, andto bring a new range of issues - such as competition policy and investment - under the WTO umbrella.
ImpasseFinally, of course, no trade talks these days would be complete without an impasse over agriculture. Theextent of the problem here was underlined by the paper put out last week by Stuart Harbinson, the chairof the agricultural talks; this was sent back to the drawing board by ministers from more than 20 worldtrade organisation members at the Tokyo meeting over the weekend after it failed to please either of thetwo main camps. Harbinson said he hoped his second draft in the coming weeks, would find a bettercompromise.
His original plan was a serious attempt to force the players to face up to how much needed to be donebetween now and the WTO's ministerial meeting planned for Cancun in Mexico in September. The EU hatedthe Harbinson paper, because it demands big cuts in the export subsidies that are ravaging agriculture inthe developing world, as well as reductions in the support the Americans give their farmers through exportcredits. Deep down, however, the Americans are far more ready to countenance liberalisation of trade inagriculture than is the EU. Washington will not move in other areas unless Brussels accepts deepcuts in farm subsidies.
Talks hang by a thread but here are some predictions. Ultimately, a compromise will be reached onagriculture, where it is questionable whether Europe can continue its extravagant feather-bedding of farmers at a time when unemployment is high, budget deficits are rising and the farmers ofcentral and eastern Europe are about to join the club. Reducing farm support - even though it will not meetthe aspirations of the development agencies - will act as a catalyst for the rest of the talks, where therewill be a surprising amount of liberalisation of trade in services. But this won't happen yet. The chancesof the talks ending on schedule next year are between slim and none. A crisis in the talks isneeded first. On current form that will come in Cancun. There is too much to do, and very little time.
Guardian Unlimited Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
NB: the whole context of the paragraph (text) is to be taken into account when deciding on the meaning of
the following excerpts
1.The poor folk can play hardball too.
1) Rich people aren’t as good at games as poor people are.
2) Ballgames are popular since everyone can afford the gear.
3) The needy have always the option of playing games as an amusement.
4) Poor countries can drive a hard bargain, just like rich ones.
Developing countries wonder what on earth is going on
1. Poorer countries are puzzled by what the feuding rich countries are up to.
2) Third-world countries wonder what the world is becoming.
3) Third-world countries are bewildered when they see what the world is becoming.
4) Affluent countries are trying to find out what’s happening.
3. As the planes dropped their payloads on Afghanistan1).Since the planes were airlifting vital products to Afghanistan.
2) While the airforce dropped supplies intended to win over the Afghan population.
3) In view of the fact that the planes launched their bombs on Afghanistan.
4) While the bombs poured down from the sky upon the Afghan countryside.
4. tough on terrorism, tough on the causes of terrorism1) Although terrorism is a harsh reality, the causes of terrorism are equally harsh.
2) though it’s hard to combat terrorism, it’s also hard to fight the origins of terrorism.
3) to strike a blow against the causes of terrorism may render terrorism even more brutal.
4) Relentless in the fight against terrorism, equally unflinching in combating its origins.
5. committing themselves to opening up markets1) Joining together in order to promote global free trade.
2) Entering into a joint venture aimed at fostering free trade.
3) pledging themselves to a liberalisation of world trade.
4) Determined to increase their market share in global trade.
breaking down protectionist
1) If tariffs collapse, there will be a rapid surge in protest.
2) If regulations are infringed, the growth rate will pick up.
3) the dismantling of trade restrictions will boost sustainable growth.
4) Sustained growth will surely result from the follow from the protectionist economic depression.
7. Should it come to war against Saddam1) The question is whether or not the war against Saddam is morally justified.
2) the issue is whether the world should go to war against Iraq.
3) If the event of there being an outbreak of hostilities against Iraq.
4) Provided the world is bound to go to war against Saddam.
8. The stalemate in Geneva1) The worn-out US-EU couple coming together for talks in Geneva.
2) In Geneva, the time for talking has come to an end.
3) The atmosphere is gloomy on the shores of Lac Léman.
4) The fact that neither party in the talks is willing to budge.
9. paying only lip-service to deadlines1) Obsessed in everything they said with the importance of meeting their schedules.
2) Indifferent to the vast numbers of people likely to be killed in the conflict.
3) Merely pretending to be serious about the need to abide by the calendar agreed on.
4) whispering the latest rumours about the countdown to war.
10. a shared interest in pushing ahead with the agenda1)For both parties it would be interesting to get rid of the issues.
2) it would be beneficial to the parties concerned if they managed to carry out the programme.
3) both parties could share the financial cost of implementing the plan.
4) they were all determined to speed up their implementation of the plan.
11.George Bush has other things on his plate1) Trade negotiations aren’t really George Bush’s cup of tea.
2) The president has no intention to make a mountain out of a molehill.
3) Trade reform is not the only pressing issues which the president has to address.
4) George Bush much prefers getting tucked into some grittier, machismo issues.
12. that their patents would be infringed willy-nilly
1) That they would suffer open competition from determined low-cost operators.
2) That safety regulations would inevitably be broken by down-market companies.
3) that they would inevitably fail to uphold their commercial property against the threat from rogue low-costcompanies.
4)That rogue companies would cut costs because of their flimsy respect for patents.
an agreement on drugs is seen as a way of breaking the logjam.
1) The consensus on the need to combat drug-trafficking would help break the ice in negotiations.
2) The predominant view is that the agreement on access to vital drugs will facilitate an agreement on other
3) Once the parties agree to make the drugs available the backlog of outstanding issues will be evident to all.
4) An international convention on access to medicine is regarded as an imperative if the therapeutic agents latent intropical forests are to be tapped.
14. Officials openly scoff
1) It is clear that officials believe that some of the points raised by the U.S. are disturbing.
2) Diplomats make no effort to hide their amusement at
3) Politicians are letting their hair down now that an agreement has been reached.
4) This isn’t a time for diplomats to embark on a cover-up in relation to the U.S. position.
15. will have scant impact on the profitability
1) will only slightly affect corporate profits.
2) will probably cut company profits till they’re really scanty.
3) will have short-term repercussions for corporate profits.
4) will immediately jeopardise company profits.
16. good intent from the west that might help kickstart the talks
1) If western counties are determined, they’ll be able to impose their agenda in the talks.
2) provided western countries are in agreement, they’ll be able to get the talks going.
3) The talks might get off to a good start if western countries show enough determination.
4) A show of good will on the part of western countries would perhaps help to get discussions going.
17. the sheer scale and complexity of the agenda1) though the issues under discussion are few in number, they are far from simple2) just thinking about the amount of difficult questions which still have to be resolved3) the extent of the problems to be solved has led to confusion.
4) it will take a lot of time and hard work there are many mountains to climb before they grasp the ins and outs ofwhat must be done.
18. unless Brussels accepts deep cuts in farm subsidies.
1) if Brussels doesn’t grant considerable shares in its programme of farm support mechanisms.
2) if the EU fails to agree to a reduction in its incentive schemes for farmers.
3) provided the EU imposes structural reductions in its aid for farmers.
4) if the UE is afraid to implement a reduction in the number of farms in Europe
19. whether Europe can continue its extravagant feather-bedding
1) if Europe persists in molly-coddling traditional producers of geese and free-range chickens.
2) if the EU can persist in its costly policy aimed at making things cosier for farmers.
3) if the EU can go on with its farfetched policy of supporting local delicacies made by farmers4) whether the EU goes on giving the kiss of life to lame-duck farmers.
20. The chances of the talks ending on schedule next year are between slim and none1) The odds that a deal will be reached on time next year are not too bad.
2) The chances are that there will be no agreement about the timetable of reforms before next year.
3) The likelihood of breaking the negotiations to a conclusion on time next year are very remote.
4) It will take a lot of luck to enable people to programme an end to talks before next year.
21Since the millennium the price of oil has. …….5%.
1) raised to 2) rose to) increased at 4) risen by
22. The film is not worth……….
1) having seen 2) to see 3) seeing 4) to be viewing
23. I’m not convinced she will succeed, . the exam is an easy one
1) despite 2) unlike 3) even though 4) in spite of
24. ….just been . that he is very sick.
1) It has…reported 2) We’ve ….said 3) We’ve…rumoured 4) It has been told
25. Before participating in “Survivor” she ……… worms.
1) didn’t use to eat 2) wasn’t used to eating 3) hadn’t used to eating 4) wasn’t used to eat
26. While the race was going on the journalists…….Noilly-Prat in the VIP lounge.
1) would have drunk 2) were drinking 3) were drunk of 4) are drinking champagne
27. Jill and George play poker . Saturday.
28. Economic problems are closely ….political problems.
1) linked at 2) binding with 3) tied at 4) bounded up with
29. The irate customer …a meeting with the owner of the shop.
1) begged him 2) required 3) asked for 4) threated
30. By the time you are sixty, you’ll …….retire.
1) be dreaming of 2) be feeling like you 3) be eager you 4) be keen to
31. The manager ……….difficult the job would be.
1) hadn’t realised what 2) hadn’t much grasp how 3) had slight grasp what 4) hadn’t grasped how
32. When I was young I ………. the cinema to see Lee Marvin.
1) recall to go to 2) remind my going to 3) remind having going 4) recall going to
33. In London, the authorities …….keep London Central Line trains …….
1) are struggling to ….running 2) struggle to ….in running 3) must struggle ….in working 4) struggle
34.London ………the 2012 Olympic games.
1) has plans to apply 2) has intention to apply for 3) is planning to bid for 4) is expecting to bid
35. I had the definite impression my phone call was not welcome. It was bad timing: they ….a fight
1) must have 2) had been having 3) might have 4) had
36. Paris was …… be successful with its candidacy, he said, because ….London the city had good transport.
1) expecting to …unlike … 2) likely to …unlike of 3) liked to…unlike to 4) likely to….unlike
37. Go to the athletics championship this weekend. You ……. the opportunity to see such a thrilling event.
1) mustn’t miss 2) mustn’t lack 3) shouldn’t pass 4) mustn’t fail
38. Foreigners are …. shares on the Russian stock-market.
1) aware to buy 2) cautious for buying 3) wary of buying 4) beware of buying
39. I believe you’re the …….who can understand the pain that I’m going through.
1) only one 2) single one 3) sole one 4) unique one
40. They don’t see any point ……. with the marriage
1) to going up 2) to go off 3) in going on 4) at going up
Prof. Dott. Fabio Arcangeli Direttore Unità Operativa di Dermatologia Ospedale “M.Bufalini” di Cesena Viale Ghirotti 286, 47023 Cesena, Tel. 0547.352725, e-mail Residente a Rimini, Via Fornace Fabbri 4 Svolge attivita’ Libero Professionale a Cesena Ospedale “M.Bufalini”, Viale Ghirotti 286 Poliambulatorio Valturio, Viale Valturio 20/a Reggio Calabria CURRICULUM VITAE
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