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Global Map

The debate on trade and development creates new dividing lines. We need new political maps.


[chronicle] The Norwegian public needs something more than the traditional dichotomies to engage in vital political entrepreneurship. This is evident in this summer's debate on the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations. The map shows the positions in the WTO debate.

The map shows, among other things, that some solidarity organizations should be aware that they can reduce their own position to a useful piece in the power games of strong interest groups. The map also shows that some actors should sign up in the debate: where, for example, are SV's solidarity politicians? Where is AUF – which will form the power elite of the future – and who we know have strong opinions on this topic? And not least – where is the majority of aid organizations?

Following the summer's collapse in the WTO negotiations, the EU is in the process of establishing agreements with some of the world's poorest regions. The British aid organization Oxfam points out in a recent report on an agreement the EU wants to establish with the Pacific Islands region. This region has a gross domestic product of about $ 13.300 billion. On the other side of the table sits one of the world's largest players with the equivalent of $ XNUMX billion.

The collapse of the WTO increases the pressure of the most powerful players on the very weakest negotiating parties.

With such a gross asymmetry in the balance of power, if the EU gets what it wants, far-reaching agreements will be established in everything from agriculture to service production. There is little or no possibility of sanctioning, as this is a bilateral agreement between the two regions.

This is just one of the examples of the collapse of the WTO increasing the pressure of the most powerful players on the very weakest negotiating parties. For years, alliance building and pressure exerted by the poorest against the most powerful within the WTO system has so far remained a saga.

Several players have pointed out the crucial importance of the WTO agreement, and combined with the fear of the livelihood of Norwegian farmers, the debate about the world trade has raged in Norwegian newspaper columns.

This map tries to provide an overview of the terrain based on newspaper editorial comments, organizations and parties' participation in editorial and reader letter space, as well as talks and seminars over the past year.

The left side of the horizontal axis is the most protectionist position, while the right side is the one that goes most strongly to tear down the customs walls. The top of the vertical axis is the strongest supporter of supranationalism and multilateralism; the bottom is the one that will give the nation state as much authority as possible.

For the sake of honesty, I would like to point out that I have previously worked for Church Aid's political campaign section. However, the map and text are solely at your own expense.

Nature and Youth: The powerful – and in other areas clairvoyant – organization has unfortunately been seduced by the dream of the organic farmer who sells his goods on the local market. Advocates rules of the game that in a realpolitik climate – among other things through their support for the food sovereignty line – will work contrary to the airy visions.

Has marked himself as an unreserved WTO critic.

The Development:

The organization, which above all has become a fan bearer of the principle of food sovereignty, which gives blanket authority to all countries to organize agriculture at their own discretion. Cheers after the WTO went on this summer's fatal blow, and hopefully this means the organization never gets on its feet again.


The organization may look like it is slipping. The signals are not as uncritically critical to the WTO as some other traditional supporters. Sees the need for supranational game rules. Has, among other things, valuable input on increased democracy in the WTO. However, it shows an obvious lack of imagination when pointing to powerful, alternative constructions to control world trade.

Church Aid:

Got a strong review by the farmers' league when they spoke last autumn for increased trade in agricultural goods. Has spent a lot of energy on a new sharing model in the support schemes for agriculture – where subsidies that lead to dumping of food are to be separated. Was a strong critic of this summer's draft agreement, but marks himself as the strongest supporter among the solidarity organizations with his desire to keep the WTO on track.

common Council

for Africa: Featured in the Autumn Morgenbladet series on supranationalism as an opponent of the food sovereignty principle. Is a supporter of trade in agricultural products from poor countries with a subsequent need for supranational rules. Still was strongly critical of this summer's draft WTO agreement.

Young Right:

Is an unreserved supporter of a flat demolition of customs walls. Also wants flat cuts in agriculture subsidies. With almost a religious tinge, it is stated that free flow and zero control are the path to salvation. The most powerful players in the class are left with the freedom to do whatever they want.

The class struggle:

Editor Bjørgulv Braanen consolidates the conservative position on the far left with his traditional right-left dichotomy. With this, he also takes a clear side with Norwegian farmers' organizations in his analysis: Norwegian farmers are part of the same struggle – against the untamed capitalist forces.


The farmers' own newspaper runs uncovered campaign journalism against anyone who deviates from their line which involves the preservation of all today's agricultural facilities. The newspaper plays the role of uncritical voice for Norwegian peasant interests.

Today's business:

The newspaper on the far right wing runs a clean cut liberalist line. In leadership positions, they have with great pathos painted the perverted image where there is a direct contrast between Norwegian farmers and poor farmers with strong export interests in the south. The newspaper advocates a radical demolition of customs walls and maintains a naïve belief in the "free" market.


The old cultural conservative newspaper may appear as the most nuanced actor among the newspapers. The aim is more trade with poor countries, while the newspaper is problematic about free liberalization. This fall has invited a comprehensive debate where they point to supranational sanctions bodies as the only navigable route.

Farmers' Association:

The big farmers' interest organization is committed to preserving production incentives for industrial agriculture. With long traditions for the effective influence of decision makers, they have seen that they need to legitimize their interests with the solidarity organizations in an agricultural debate that is increasingly about development considerations. The strategy has succeeded far and wide.


The Små Year People's Organization differs from the Bondelaget in its criticism of industrial agriculture, but does not dare to go all the way out in its criticism of its big brothers. Could have chosen a dynamic line especially with a view to the abolition of support schemes tailored to industrial agriculture, but for the time being refuse to take the step completely.

By Sindre Strand Tollefsen

SV Member,

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