Poorest Countries Must Improve Trade Capacity - WTO

Article excerpt

GENEVA, Oct. 26 (Reuters) - The world's poorest countries need to get more competitive at producing and exporting goods in order to take advantage of preferential access offered by rich countries, an internal WTO report says.

But many Least Developed Countries (LDCs) find their export opportunities limited because not only do they struggle to produce goods efficiently enough, but they also find it difficult to deal with the complex rules and standards imposed by many importing countries.

In 2006 79 percent of LDC's exports entered developed countries duty-free, said the World Trade Organization study, dated Oct. 14 and circulated on the WTO website.

''While the market access issues are being addressed at the WTO negotiations, the LDCs as well as the international community should continue to give full attention to enhance the capacity of LDCs to produce more tradable products at competitive prices,'' it said.

Not all LDC products enjoy duty-free access, with textiles and clothing products from some of Asia's poorest countries facing high tariffs in the US market, for example.

So only 70 percent of LDC non-agricultural products enter developed markets duty-free, against 90-100 percent duty-free entry for farm and mineral products, it said.

The study noted that LDC exports of goods and services grew by 19.6 percent in 2007, below the 29 percent average for the three preceding years, but outperformed growth in world trade for the seventh consecutive year.

LDC export earnings tripled to $ 138 billion in 2007 from $ 42 billion in 2000. …