West is blamed as WTO talks flop

02 November 2006

THE COLLAPSE of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks on Monday showethat rich countries were not prepared to make even the smallest steps towardfairer trade, agencies protested this week.

"The refusal by rich countries to take seriously the development mandate ithe negotiations is a gross betrayal of millions of poor people across thworld," said Tearfund on Tuesday.

Christian Aid described the collapse of the talks after five years as "terrible blow at poor people", and one that put the entire WTO in jeopardy"Poor countries desperately needed a fair trade deal so that they could groout of poverty and not rely on hand-outs. This tawdry squabbling at the ricworlds high table has put paid to that," said Dr Claire Melamed, senior tradanalyst at Christian Aid. "It is no good flicking a few crumbs of comfort vithe aid-and-debt-relief front with one hand, while the other is slowlsqueezing the economic life-blood out of poor countries."

CAFOD, too, laid the blame at the door of the EU and the US. "The Americanput the interests of their farm-lobby groups before the developing countrieand the WTO itself. The US gave the rest of the world a choice between agreeinto unacceptable proposals or seeing the multilateral system collapse," said thagencys trade analyst, Matt Griffith.

The EU must also take responsibility, he said, for consistently putting thneeds of its own farmers and business above the needs of the poor, failing treduce domestic farm subsidies enough, and "trying to push a bad deal odeveloping countries".

The Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane, speaking obehalf of African Monitor, a pan-African development network, expressedisappointment and sadness at the collapse of the WTO talks, and urged that Gand African governments hold to their promises and pledges to halve the numbeof people living in poverty by 2015.

The key element of success in providing sustainable livelihoods for mosAfricans was trade, said the Archbishop. "It has been estimated that if Africincreased its share of world exports by only one per cent, it would generat$70 billion. That is about five times what our continent receives in aid," hsaid.

Pressing for the reopening of talks, Archbishop Ndungane said: "It is verimportant that we do not lose hope. In my experience, it is seldom that theskinds of breakdown are completely irrevocable. What has happened is thaprogress on the trade front has been temporarily slowed, and we need to go bacto the table to work on other approaches and alternatives."

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