The Commons

2015 is a significant year in the history of the International Free trade regime, as its key multilateral instrument, the World Trade Organization (WTO), completes 20 years. Two decades of the WTO have raised many questions, most significantly, is the WTO relevant to small and marginal farmers in the Global South? This question remains relevant as developing countries continue to fight for protection and gains for their small and marginal farmers.

An outburst of applause erupted in the local courtroom from among the accused farmers of Barangay (village) Sumalo and their supporters when the non-guilty verdict was read by the clerk of court. The jubilation diminished into hushed sighs after the public prosecutor reproached the public for forgetting court decorum. But when the farmers walked out of the Hall of Justice of Dinalupihan City, Bataan province, north of Manila, they could no longer hold back tears of joy, especially the women.

Since the early 1990s, Cambodia has been heavily reliant on foreign aid. The Cambodian Government is seeking to reduce donor-dependence and increase self-reliance, aiming to lift the country to the status of higher middle-income country by 2030. This goal depends heavily on increasing private investment, and the Government has described the private sector as the “engine of economic growth” for Cambodia. It is therefore seeking to encourage both foreign and domestic investment in order to maintain current growth rates and facilitate continued development of the country. 

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