UN trade chief urges developed world to open up markets to developing nations

28 September 2005

Stressing that liberalization of trade in goods and services can generate even more financing for developing countries than aid, the head of the United Nations trade agency today called for speedy action to achieve full free market access for these States, including the elimination of export subsidies in the developed world.

“The time for rhetoric and political brinkmanship has come and gone,” UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi told a regional meeting of Arab trade ministers in Amman, Jordan, ahead of the 6th UN World Trade Organization (WTO) Conference in Hong Kong in December.

“There are a few weeks left of tough negotiations in Geneva in which to craft a good package that will lead to the desired outcome in Hong Kong – an outcome that puts development first,” he added, outlining the components of a “fair deal.”

These include eliminating market access and entry barriers for products and services of export interest to developing countries, eliminating export subsidies and all trade-distorting support to agriculture including cotton and extending duty-free and quota-free market access for all the least developed countries (LDCs).

“The focus must be on the market access and entry conditions that affect developing countries, particularly on agriculture,” Mr. Supachai said, noting the enormous benefits liberalized trade could bring, generating more financing for development than official development assistance (ODA).

UNCTAD estimates that liberalization of trade in agriculture, non-agricultural products and temporary movement of persons supplying services and cross-border supply of services could generate up to $310 billion annually, at least half of which could ultimately be captured by developing countries.

The distribution of the gains among developing countries is an issue, however, as they are more likely to accrue to those developing countries already enjoying a competitively advantageous position.


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