IBSAC (INDIA, BRAZIL, SOUTH AFRICA, CHINA): A Potential Developing Country Coalition in WTO Negotiations

The Doha Round of WTO trade negotiations is currently witnessing a deadlock, owing to the divergence of opinions between the developed and developing countries on future reform modalities. The deadlines for conclusion of the negotiation, as set by the WTO after the Hong Kong Ministerial (2005), have already been missed. While the blame game between the developed and developing countries is on, it cannot be denied that the absence of multilateral trade reform is hurting the interests of the developing countries more as compared to their developed counterparts. Therefore, it is imperative that the developing countries with similar trade interest come closer and jointly negotiate with developed countries in order to extract maximum benefits.

Developing country negotiating blocs at the multilateral trade forums is not something new. However, with the rising market share of the developing countries in world trade, both in case of merchandise products and services trade, their presence in the negotiating forum is more noteworthy vis-à-vis the same observed during the Uruguay Round. The recent developing country blocs with sectoral focus like G-20 and G-33 on agriculture, NAMA-11 on industrial products and G-24 on services could be quoted in this context. However, it has been argued that drafting a negotiating agenda which will be suited to a large number of developing countries and the LDCs on agriculture, manufacturing and services is quite difficult, while doing the same by a smaller group of developing countries at a comparable level of development is much easier. India, Brazil, South Africa and China (IBSAC), the four leading developing countries, could form one such group.

The current paper analyzes the ongoing collaborations between the IBSAC countries on various issues and looks into the possibility of the formation of a formal IBSAC bargaining coalition in the coming future. It further considers the possibility of strengthening the bond between the IBSAC countries through formation of a Free Trade Area (FTA) or by entering into a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). It concludes that while the IBSA collaboration seems more likely, the participation of China in this proposed initiative is expected to be limited and issue-based, depending on its perceived gains from that move. Protecting developing country interests is currently not, and neither is likely to emerge as a major driving force behind China’s trade policy-making exercises in coming future.

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures
List of Abbreviations
List of Groupings at the GATT / WTO quoted in the volume
1. Introduction
2. India, Brazil, South Africa and China: A Trade Profile
3. The WTO Negotiations towards a Developing-Country Alliance: Past, Present and the Future
4. IBSAC and the Growing Regionalism: A Response to Slow pace of Multilateral Negotiation?
5. The Possible Emergence of IBSAC as a Negotiating Coalition at WTO: An Analysis of Commonalities and Concerns
6. The Role of IBSAC-Plus: Strengthening the Negotiating Bond?
7. In lieu of Conclusion