Annan calls for rich country concessions to break trade deadlock

Secretary-General addresses meeting

24 April 2006 – Addressing senior economic officials from across the world gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today spoke out in favour of “genuine market access opportunities” for developing countries and a rapid termination of trade-distorting subsidies for agriculture in the developed States.

Mr. Annan told a key meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that rich countries should take “bold measures” to facilitate a successful conclusion of the currently stalled Doha trade talks. Negotiators have called for new progress by the end of this month on what is known as “the development round” of trade agreements.

The Secretary-General’s remarks were heard by finance and development ministers and high-level officials of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, along with representatives of the 54-member Economic and Social Council. The guests, hosted by ECOSOC, came to New York directly from Washington, DC, where they had participated over the past weekend in the Bretton Woods Spring meeting.

Consultations between ECOSOC and the main finance and trade institutions covered a range of issues, including national strategies to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); debt relief; and the development efforts and finance needs of middle-income developing countries.

Today’s meeting is aimed at advancing previous international agreements, including the Outcome Document adopted by national leaders attending the 2005 World Summit. Citing decisions reached at that meeting, ECOSOC President Ali Hachani of Tunisia said that the Council would review progress on the MDGs and related goals annually, and would convene a global Development Cooperation Forum.

Mr. Hachani also warned that continued strong worldwide economic growth “should not lead to complacency,” but rather should be seized on as an opportunity to more rapidly advance national and international action on development goals.

The chairman of the Bretton Woods’ Development Committee, Colombian finance minister Alberto Carrasquilla, noted that two thirds of the increase in world energy demand over the next 25 years will come from developing countries, where 1.6 billion people currently lack access even to electricity. He told the meeting that required investments of about $300 billion a year to meet these needs should be directed toward more efficient carbon energy.

Mr. Carrasquilla also called on the Bretton Woods institutions to address the need to foster greater participation by developing and transition economies. This echoed a call made by Mr. Annan in an address delivered by Under-Secretary-General José Antonio Ocampo to the weekend meeting in Washington.

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