World’s poorest economies meet to talk trade issues

November 18th, 2008 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Phnom Penh, Nov 18 (Xinhua) Trade and industry ministers from the poorest countries have arrived in Siem Reap to explore ways and means of integrating their economies into the global trading system, said a press release here Tuesday. The ministers will be joined in the coming two days by donors and development agencies active in trade at the regional and global levels, said the release from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

This year’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Ministerial Conference is organized jointly by UNIDO and WTO and hosted by the government of Cambodia from Nov 19-20.

One of the main topics is “Aid for Trade” (AfT), a package of incentives designed to help the LDCs overcome structural and resource constraints in exchange for more speedy trade reforms, it said.

“Our mission is to support our member states’ efforts to become more firmly integrated in the world economy through greater and fairer trade. The LDCs especially face strong productive capacity challenges posed by globalization, challenges that must be addressed for continuous growth of trade and equitable development among nations,” Kandeh Yumkella, UNIDO director general, was quoted as saying.

The WTO is coordinating efforts to boost AfT,” which will increase the capacity of developing countries enabling them to better take advantage of the benefits arising from greater trade opening”, it said.

The meeting will also provide an opportunity to discuss the Doha round of trade talks, which would make world trade rules more equitable for the poorest countries and provide them with greatly increased market access opportunities, it said.

Among the items already agreed in the Doha round are provisions which would remove barriers imposed by rich countries on at least 97 percent of exports from the poorest countries and would result in deep and expeditious cuts in trade distorting cotton subsidies in rich countries, it added.

“This meeting in Siem Reap comes at crucial time for the global economy. The turmoil created by the financial crisis must not distract us from our goal of ensuring that the world’s poorest countries have a greater stake in the trading system,” WTO chief Pascal Lamy said.

“Moving the Doha round closer to its conclusion and ensuring more and better Aid for Trade are essential ingredients to help the poorest countries better integrate into the world economy,” Lamy said.

“This meeting will ensure that we continue to focus on these vital objectives,” he added.

UNIDO is a specialized agency of the United Nations system that works towards improving the quality of life of the world’s poor by helping countries achieve sustainable industrial development.

WTO is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments.

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