World Bank urges action to open markets to developing countries

27 September 2002

On the eve of this weekend’s joint World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual meeting, senior officials from the financial institutions called for rich nations to open their markets to goods from developing countries.

On the eve of this weekend’s joint World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual meeting, senior officials from the financial institutions called for rich nations to open their markets to goods from developing countries.

“Improving market access for developing countries is one of the most important steps that the rich countries could take to help fight global poverty,” World Bank Chief Economist Nicholas Stern said.

Barriers faced by developing countries include tariff peaks and quotas, massive agricultural subsidies, and product standards that the Bank charges are applied arbitrarily and bureaucratically. Meanwhile, developing countries also pursue protectionist polices that impede their own growth and poverty reduction.

Many policy makers in high-income countries understand these issues and have proposed measures to further open their markets, but progress has been too slow. “Now is the time for action,” Mr. Stern said.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C., the President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, agreed on the need to move from theory to practice. “The central thrust of this [weekend’s] meeting is going to be on the thrust of now making effective what we are doing and scaling up what we are doing, because without scaling up, we are not going to meet the development targets,” he said.

Noting that the year 2015 – the target date set by the UN for reaching numerous anti-poverty and development goals – is “down the street,” Mr. Wolfensohn said. “There is no more time to waste on argument about how you do it; we have to get into doing it, and doing it with accountability and with transparency.”

 

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