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The Poor Betrayed (Again) by WTO Agreement

Monday, 19 December 2005,

The Poor Betrayed (Again) by WTO Agreement

The poor of the developing world have been betrayed by the inadequate trade deal struck at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks in Hong Kong, says relief and development agency TEAR Fund.

After a week of negotiations, developing countries approved an offer to end farm export subsidies by 2013. A small, welcome step was also made towards allowing poor countries to protect crops of vital importance to poor farmers. Overall however, the deal failed to deliver the significant progress towards development for which WTO negotiators had originally hoped.

"Once again a significant opportunity to affect real change has been missed," says TEAR Fund Executive Director Stephen Tollestrup. "Advances in agriculture are far outweighed by outcomes in areas such as industrial goods and services."

"The needs of poor countries have been marginalised, while rich countries have pushed forward their own agendas in opening up the markets of developing nations. The privileged have not seen fit to make the changes necessary to deliver trade justice."

"While there has been an agreement to end export subsidies by 2013, many harmful agricultural measures remain largely untouched. There has been no progress on the essential issue of wealthy nations' domestic subsides. Rich countries will be allowed to continue dumping their products onto the markets of developing countries, destroying lives and livelihoods."

Concludes Stephen Tollestrup: "The Hong Kong talks began with grand promises of a 'development package' for poor countries, but it has not materialised. Instead we have been left with empty promises of aid, and an agreement which allows the rules of trade to remain weighted firmly in favour of the developed world."

"The governments of rich nations know what is required to make trade work for the poor. However, they clearly lack the political will to take the necessary steps. It is crucial that we, the public, keep up pressure on world leaders to deliver just international trading rules. There is every reason to keep campaigning throughout 2006."


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