Based on its prior experience working on issues of the WTO and other trade -related issues , ANND is launching a project on the WTO and other trade-related agreements during the year 2005-2006.
ANND programs on the WTO and other trade-related issues have the following basic goals:
* To enhance the awareness and involvement of Arab civil society organizations on trade-related issues, especially on the WTO and the socio-economic impact of these issues on the Region, as well as the mechanisms for them to play a bigger role in advocacy campaigns in this regards
* To promote more transparency, participation, and legitimacy in the process of negotiations on trade issues in the Arab region, through trying to find opportunities for informed CSOs to take part in this process, as well as through trying to institutionalize the participation of CSOs in negotiations on trade issues, especially the WTO
* To contribute to enhancing the clarity and long-term vision and objectives of the national policies that are being adopted, based on the processes of integration in the WTO
Based on the socio-economic conditions in the Region, ANND sees that agriculture, services, and issues of intellectual property rights are the most urgent matters for tackling, and thus adopts these issues as priority in its strategy and programs.
Accordingly, the project will contribute to mobilizing Arab CSOs to face the socio-economic impact of the WTO and other trade agreements on the Arab countries. It will be an opportunity to shed light on the development of such agreements within the political, economic, and social contexts existent in the Arab countries. In addition, it will examine these economic processes in relation to the international dynamics that exist today, which includes debates on democratic change, regional integration, global governance, peace and security, and the mounting challenges to development.
On the international level, ANND coordinates with and participates in various global and regional networks and research groups such as the Our World Is Not for Sale Network, the Third World Network, the Social Watch, and the Asia-Pacific Research Center. In addition, ANND works in close coordination with Oxfam UK that leads the Oxfam Fair Trade Campaign and the Global Campaign for Action against Poverty.
ANND also is a member of the CIVICUS World Alliance and contributes to its Board work. Through these contacts and coordination relations, ANND provides a better integration and linkages of its programs with the international campaigns on trade. It also contributes to setting sounder ANND strategies regarding trying to close the gaps in the role of CSOs in this area.
The trade program focuses on four main trade areas;
- The World Trade Organization (WTO)
- The Euro-Mediterranean partnership
- The regional Arab trade agreements
- The bilateral trade agreements between Arab countries and the U.S.
One of the major questions that are raised in our region these days is whether the World Trade Organization, the Euro-Mediterranean agreements, and the Arab trade agreements are complementary or substitute arrangements. There is a major debate on the prioritization between these agreements and the expected outcomes of developing bilateral, regional, and global trade initiatives. Through its Globalization and Trade program, ANND aims at addressing this question by tackling these issues from various perspectives, that of non-governmental organizations, research experts, government, international institutions, ect.... The Networks dedicates this program to provide the needed tools for raising awareness about and advocating for a more efficient and effective role of Arab civil society organizations (CSOs) in the decision-making process regarding trade in their countries and the region as a whole.
Moreover, the trade program compliments the other two ANND programs, i.e. the programs on development and democracy, serving ANND s advocacy strategy. The work on the globalization and trade program is directly linked to the development program as both address issues of equality and human rights. Also, the 8th goal in the MDGs specifically addresses global partnerships as engines for development. Accordingly, we could note that the Globalization and Trade program serves in enhancing the 8th MDG through following up on the major global partnerships today including the WTO and the Euro-Med partnerships. Moreover, it enhances the democracy program through addressing the strong impetus for democratization and progress towards human rights that the global partnerships advocate. In general, human rights could be considered a common floor between the three programs; it is part of the Agenda 21 which is a focus point in the development program, it is a building block in the MDGs, and it is a main consideration for the social and political aspects of the WTO and the Euro-med partnership.