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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Friday, June 24, 2005

Rich Countries Set to Get Away Failing Poor on Trade

News Archive - Millennium Campaign: "Oxfam pressrelease

UK, 16 July 2005 - With just three weeks before the G8, rich countries are balking from making
any reductions to their agricultural subsidies and could even increase them unless world trade negotiations change track, international agency Oxfam warned today.
This would have devastating consequences for the developing world and would undermine the important role that trade plays along with aid and debt relief to unlocking poverty. With Blair in Europe this week pushing for more aid, Oxfam is urging rich country leaders also to commit to deliveringpro-development trade reform. Research from Oxfam has shown that just if developing countries got just a 1% greater share of world trade, 128 million people could be lifted out of poverty.
Oxfam's report, A Round for Free, shows that the EU and US have been using loopholes and creative accounting at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to enable them to keep making large payouts to their biggest farmers. This causes overproduction and export dumping, undermining poor producersoverseas.
The current wrangle over the EU budget has put the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the spotlight. The CAP, which costs Europe more than 100bn a year, lavishes money on some of the biggest, richest farmers in the EU and at the same time denies farmers in the developing world the chance to work their way out of poverty. The EU needs to use this opportunity to re-examine the way it supports its farmers.
"Alongside aid and debt, trade reform is crucial to help end poverty in the developing world, and yet this report shows that progress at the WTO is negligible," said Celine Charveriat, Head of Oxfam International's Make Trade Fair Campaign. "Rich countries are dodging the commitments they'vemade to reduce subsidies that hurt poor farmers overseas. At the same time, they're forcing poor countries to open their markets. This duplicity threatens to turn the whole round of talks into farce."
According to the report, rich countries have been redefining rather than reducing subsidies at the WTO. As a result, overall farm support in developed countries has not changed since 1986, and still stands at over $250bn per year in real terms. Furthermore, WTO rules give rich countries such flexibility that in some cases they could even increase payments which distort trade by nearly $30bn in the case of the EU.
The report alleges that despite rich country pledges to eliminate export subsidies, this is unlikely to happen until 2016 at the earliest, and even then large levels of disguised payments will remain. It reveals that the US pays out the equivalent of $6.6bn in hidden subsidies a year to its farmers two hundred times more than it declares to the WTO. The EU pays $5.2bn four times the reported amount.
Charveriat: "This is a scandalous betrayal of the developing countries that put their faith in the WTO system. As we approach the G8 the focus is on aid and debt relief, which are vitally important and could help create the circumstances in which poor countries could benefit from global trade. But while rich countries continue to rig trade rules in their own favour, the developing world will never have the chance to work its way out of poverty."
The report calls for an end date of 2010 for export subsidies, a reduction of other rich country payments that distort trade, and recognition of the right for poor countries to protect vulnerable sectors as long dumping continues. The cotton and sugar panels should be implemented in good faith before the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong at the end of the year.
Download here the Oxfam's report, A Round for Free.

To learn more visit Oxfam website.
Date Created: 6/20/2005, 6:32:45 AM, Copyright 2005"

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