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UNSG: Broad access to world markets stressed

Need for broad access to world markets stressed on eve of UN trade conference.

11 February --- On the eve of the tenth meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, known as UNCTAD X, the president of the forum said today in Thailand that it was time make a "serious effort" to include civil society and to address the needs of the world's poorest countries.

Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand and UNCTAD X President-Designate, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, was speaking at a joint press conference with UNCTAD Secretary-General Rubens Ricupero. Dr. Supachai recalled that the 1997 ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization in Singapore had pledged to make the needs of the least developed countries a priority, but that the results had been limited since then to only a few high-level meetings.

"It is time to make that mandate operational," Dr. Supachai said, adding that he hoped the Bangkok meeting would generate enough support to obtain agreement on across-the-board access by poor countries to world markets free of tariffs or trade quotas.

The Deputy Prime Minister met earlier in the week with representatives of more than 100 non-governmental organizations (NGOs). He was accompanied by Mr. Ricupero, who told the NGOs that UNCTAD has traditionally worked closely with them, and that "more regular and more frequent" consultations would be held in the future.

At the press conference in Bangkok, both Dr. Supachai and Mr. Ricupero agreed that a resumption of global round of trade talks -- which had been deadlocked at the WTO ministerial meeting in Seattle last December -- would also depend on taking into account the views of poor and developing countries. Dr. Supachai, who will become the head of WTO as of 2002, said current WTO chief Mike Moore had been trying to make the full integration of developing countries a necessary condition for a global round.

For his part, Mr. Ricupero said the benefits of globalization had not reached far enough.

"What we need among developing world countries is not eight or nine 'success stories,' but 130 or 140 such successes," he said. {see feature}

ENDS

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