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Minister Tells OECD To Include Developing Nations

Developing nations must be able to trade their products freely in the international trade system, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton told the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ministerial meeting in Paris this week that it was time developed nations showed developing nations that they were genuine about the commitments entered into at last year's World Trade Organisation meeting in Doha, Qatar.

"It is not fair, that the sophisticated manufactured exports of the wealthy industrialised countries have been given essentially open access to the markets of the world, while the products of the poorest countries are essentially frozen out.

"We tell the people of the developing countries that trade makes everybody better off ? and it can ? but then we deny them the opportunity to participate.

"It isn't just food, of course. For many, it is textiles. For others, it is fish, or lumber, or cotton, or clothing."

Mr Sutton said it was time developed nations gave developing countries a fair chance to specialise in the products they were best at, and allowed them to trade their way out of poverty.

He said that last July New Zealand had implemented a European Commission idea to give the world's least developed countries unobstructed access for all their products into our market. The level of imports from those 49 poor countries had gone up by 150%, with no ill effect on New Zealanders.

"We must do better in helping the developing countries to build their capacity to help themselves; to participate in the opportunities the global trade system creates."

OECD MCM 16 May 2002

Intervention of New Zealand Minister for Trade Negotiations The Hon Jim Sutton

Item 5: Trade and Development The Doha Development Agenda

Mr President, the most important purpose for this organisation this year is to send a message that the commitment we made at Doha, to address in the DDA the needs of developing countries, was genuine.

Recently, OXFAM published a groundbreaking report on trade and development, titled "Rigged Rules and Double Standards". It accused us ? the rich countries ? of rigging the rules of trade in our own favour. Of professing a commitment to poverty reduction while denying poor countries essential access to our markets. And it is true that for every dollar we spend on development aid, we spend six on assisting our own, already prosperous, farmers.

Even since Doha, the US Farm Bill, for example, guarantees good prices to American farmers for the next six years, and substantial subsidies to help them dump the inevitable surpluses into other markets, while keeping their own markets for many farm products securely closed.

The US is not the only, or even the worst, offender in this regard, but it does send a terrible message to the developing world ? one that unfortunately resonates more loudly than Ambassador Allgeier's welcome words today.

It is not fair, that the sophisticated manufactured exports of the wealthy industrialised countries have been given essentially open access to the markets of the world, while the products of the poorest countries are essentially frozen out.

We tell the people of the developing countries that trade makes everybody better off ? and it can ? but then we deny them the opportunity to participate.

It isn't just food, of course. For many, it is textiles. For others, it is fish, or lumber, or cotton, or clothing.

How about sugar? No wealth is created when poor farmers in the tropics are shut out of industrialised countries, to protect their sugar beet producers. Nobody would grow sugar beet without a subsidy. Sugar beet growers make their countries poorer, not richer. They destroy jobs, not make them.

Why do you keep doing it?

The truth is, we do it because politicians believe it helps keep them in office. So many democracies have rigged their voting systems to give more power to rural voters than city voters.

So they keep their farmers as if they were pets.

They justify it by saying "agriculture is multifunctional" - that it preserves precious traditional lifestyles and environments.

But what is precious about paying inefficient farmers to apply so much artificial fertiliser ? made from non-renewable fossil fuel ? that it ruins biodiversity, natural water and the atmosphere while producing agricultural surpluses which have to be dumped in world markets, destroying prices for unsubsidised farmers?

It is time we gave developing countries a fair chance to specialise in the products they are best at, and allow them to trade their way out of poverty.

One of the things we can all do is to give the world's least developed countries unobstructed access for all their products into our markets. That was a great EC idea.

New Zealand took the EC's advice from last July. It didn't hurt us one bit. And the level of imports from those 49 poor countries has gone up, already, by 150%.

We must do better in helping the developing countries to build their capacity to help themselves; to participate in the opportunities the global trade system creates.

In short, it is time for us to perform. Because we all know that we will all be better off when we put the DDA in place.

But unless we deal the developing countries in, we are never going to get there either.

Ends

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