Rich Nations Set to Hold Line on Trade at UN Meet

Manila Bulletin, February 19, 2000 | Go to article overview

Rich Nations Set to Hold Line on Trade at UN Meet


BANGKOK, Feb. 18 (AFP) - A major UN trade conference here was winding down Friday with the richest trading nations increasingly likely to hold to their positions on agricultural subsidies and import tariffs.

Negotiations over market access by the world's 48 poorest nations to industrialized countries "have led to a text which may be less ambitious in its scope," UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) spokesman Habib Ouane said.

Keen to protect negotiating positions in World Trade Organization (WTO) talks, major western countries and trading blocks balked at offering significant concessions to developing states.

A key battleground in Bangkok is a call by WTO chief Mike Moore, who addressed the conference on Wednesday, for developed countries to offer full market access to exports from the world's least developed countries (LDCs) to set the tone for reviving global trade talks.

Senior delegation officials met until late Thursday night and on Friday morning on UNCTAD's four-year plan of action to be issued at the end of the conference.

The compromise that emerged focused on "a possible commitment" by developed countries to grant duty-free and quota-free market access for LDC exports, Ouane told a news conference.

Western countries also fought to insert a provision concerning "the possible contribution of advanced developing countries in terms of providing dutyfree market access or improving market access" for the LDCs. …

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