Poor countries done no favours at WTO negotiations

27 April 2006

Poor countries done no favours at WTO negotiations

In the opinion of SP Member of Parliament Ewout Irrgang, the European Union's approach at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations is to ask for too much and offer too little. Irrgang made this clear during a meeting with Minister of Economic Affairs Laurens Jan Brinkhorst and Secretary of State Karien van Gennip. The meeting took place just as the development NGO Oxfam-Novib reported that as things stand developing countries would be better off were the WTO talks to fail completely.

The European Union and the United States are asking poor countries to open their markets to industrial goods, but are offering in exchange the most limited concessions in the agricultural sector. Van Gennip told Irrgang in the debate that it was first and foremost the US which must move, in view of its refusal to give up subsidising cotton cultivation to the disadvantage principally of poor African farmers.
Ewout IrrgangIrrgang considered this too easy an answer when the EU itself was offering so little in relation to its own farm subsidies. “Export subsidies amount to only 3,5% of total subsidies and even they will not be phased out until 2013. The much greater amounts paid in income support will remain untouched, although these are much more responsible for the fact that poor farmers, even on their own markets, have no chance of competing.”

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