WTO Ministerial Conference 13-18 December 2005 - Hong
focus by the United Nations Office of the High Representative
for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing
Countries and Small Island Developing States
Japan unveils aid package ahead of WTO
Published 11 December 2005
TOKYO: Japan will provide $10 billion in
trade-related aid to least-developed countries over three years,
the government said on Friday, in a bid to help infuse momentum
into key global trade negotiations. In an aid package unveiled
ahead of World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks in Hong Kong next
week, Japan also said it would provide duty-free, quota-free
market access for “essentially all products” originating
from least-developed countries (LDCs).
“This is just a start. This is a package aimed at the
success of the Doha round,” Farm Minister Shoichi Nakagawa
told a news conference. The number of LDC products Japan currently
provides duty-free preferential treatment to, amounts to roughly
86 percent, Kyodo news agency said.
The package was put together as part of a previous Japanese
pledge to add $10 billion to its overseas aid over the next
five years, which was announced at a summit of Group of Eight
industrialised nations in Gleneagles, Scotland in July.
Besides increasing preferential market access for LDCs, Japan
will employ soft loans, grant aid and technical help to improve
trade, production and distribution infrastructure as well as
to train personnel, the government said in a statement.
“There will be an exchange of a total of 10,000 trainees
and experts in these fields,” it said.
The WTO’s Doha trade round was launched four years ago
in Qatar with the aim of lifting hundreds of millions of people
in the developing world out of poverty through increased trade.
Divisions among WTO members on farm trade have dampened expectations
for ministerial talks next week in Hong Kong, originally meant
to agree a draft treaty but downgraded because of rows over
subsidies and market access.
Japan’s package was unveiled at a time when the European
Union (EU) has been pushing for a deal at next week’s
WTO meeting, which would require all industrial nations to provide
unrestricted access to products from LDCs.