Thursday, 20 November 2008

Cambodia urges unity among poor nations on trade

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday poor countries like his must continue speaking with one voice in the Doha round of global trade talks to ensure their competitiveness with developed countries.

He also lashed out at wealthy nations for maintaining trade barriers that hurt poor countries, such as farm subsidies and high food safety standards.

"Poor countries are always open to products from developed countries, but when we try to enter developed countries, we often are faced with very strong trade barriers," Hun Sen said.

He spoke in a speech opening a two-day conference of industry and trade ministers from 49 so-called least developed countries in Siem Reap province, Cambodia's tourist hub.

Hun Sen called on the countries "to bind together in solidarity and a united voice to lead us to our common success in negotiating" a revival of global trade talks.

The World Trade Organization's Doha Round talks that began in 2001 broke down in July because of a dispute among India, China and the U.S. over tariffs to protect farmers in developing markets.

Hun Sen called for a "win-win" solution to all but said poor countries "must send another clear message" to key players in the negotiation process to ensure "the principle of free and fair trade of the WTO, which is the heart of the development."

Protectionism will only cause more pain to the development prospects of poor countries that are now facing "profound and possibly prolonged effects" from the global financial crisis, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said at the conference.

"They will be left with no means to resort to, especially after the initial squeezes of a general economic slowdown," he said in a speech.

He urged WTO members to agree by the end of the year on methods for settling disagreements on agriculture and industry in order to provide "a stepping stone" toward the conclusion of the Doha Development Round in 2009.

No comments: