Press Release








                                                            9 September 2003



World’s most vulnerable countries look for progress

at world trade talks in Cancún



      NEW YORK, 9 September (Office of High Representative) -- A strong call for the upcoming trade ministers meeting in Cancún, Mexico, to give high priority to the needs of the most vulnerable countries of the world was issued today by Anwarul Chowdhury, the United Nations High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

      Mr. Chowdhury underscored that “one of the great concerns that needs to be seriously considered at Cancún is the question of eliminating the high agricultural subsidies in the developed countries, estimated to be a billion dollars a day.  This grossly undermines the future of millions of people in the least developed countries, who rely on a number of primary agricultural exports -- the case of cotton production in Africa being prominent amongst these”.  In this regard, Mr. Chowdhury welcomed the joint proposal by Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali to establish at Cancún a mechanism for phasing out support for cotton production in the developed countries.


      The ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) opens in Cancún, Mexico, tomorrow, 10 September.  Under-Secretary-General Chowdhury’s remarks on trade came shortly after the successful conclusion of a ministerial-level global conference on the needs of landlocked developing countries, held 28-29 August in Almaty, Kazakhstan.  The Almaty Programme of Action calls for attention to the market access needs of these countries.


      Citing global commitments made at the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the Barbados Programme of Action for the Small Island Developing States and the Almaty Programme of Action for the Landlocked Developing Countries, Mr. Chowdhury said that they all emphasize the importance of “global partnership for enhancing the role of trade in development and transforming it into a powerful engine for growth and poverty eradication”.


      The High Representative welcomed the outcome of the recent meeting of least developed countries held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in preparation for the Cancún talks, emphasizing that there again the LDCs reiterated “the commitment to further strengthen the rules-based multilateral trading system to meet the development needs of LDCs”.


      For many years, the least developed countries have been asking for greater market access for their products, and for special and differential



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                                                      9 September 2003



provisions to reverse the marginalization of their countries in the realm of world trade.  “It is high time that something meaningful and worthwhile is done at Cancún and the ongoing Doha Round of trade negotiations in that regard”, Mr. Chowdhury said.


      Mr. Chowdhury welcomed the successful completion of the accession procedures for Nepal and Cambodia and urged WTO members to take the necessary measures that facilitate the accession of LDCs to the trading organization.  Currently, only 30 of the 49 LDCs are WTO members.


      The High Representative urged WTO member States to “take concrete steps in the common endeavour to overcome poverty and underdevelopment amongst the teeming millions of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable countries in the world”.







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