Is three a crowd or a coalition? : India, Brazil and South Africa in the WTO

Du Preez, Mari-Lise (2007-03)

Thesis MA (Political Science. International Studies))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


This thesis is, in essence, a theoretically informed, qualitative study of an intermediate power coalition in international trade negotiations. More specifically, it critically evaluates the cooperation of India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The IBSA Dialogue Forum was established in 2003. This was also the year the three emerging countries first drew attention to their collective bargaining potential. First, they were instrumental in negotiating a waiver in the WTO that allowed for relaxed patent restrictions on the import of generic drugs for countries in the developing world facing health emergencies. Then, they also played a central role in the collapse of the WTO talks held in Cancun, 2003. This study looks at what IBSA aims to achieve in the WTO and then tries to establish whether it is possible for the initiative to achieve these aims (in the WTO). It asks, firstly, what kind of coalition IBSA forms in the WTO. Then, it asks whether it makes sense for India, Brazil and South Africa to form this type of coalition. Finally, it discusses some of the complexities involved in the three countries’ claim that it speaks for the “developing South”. The study makes use mainly of a neo-liberal institutionalist theoretical approach, while being open to constructive debate and critique from the reflective school. Ultimately, the study argues that the challenges that bind these countries also constrain each of them. The three countries might be emerging, but they are also developing countries with limited capacity that face serious developmental challenges. In addition, these countries of the South are situated in complex regional environments. In the WTO, IBSA aims to cement a coalition through processes that promote the cooperative dimensions of interaction and minimise conflictual ones. This innovative approach to cooperation does provide some hope. How they use their collective capacity will prove decisive. No doubt, successful cooperation will require hard work, especially as the coalition will have to deliver concrete results not only to domestic constituencies, but also to the developing world as a whole.

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