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
Caribbean urges development agenda for small, vulnerable countries
CHRIST CHURCH, Barbados: The Sixth World Trade
Organization (WTO) Ministerial got underway Tuesday, amidst
mounting concern over the prospects for a successful outcome
for the six-day meeting in Hong Kong.
At issue is the impasse over concessions in agriculture, the
principle stumbling block for progress in negotiations to date.
Caribbean Trade Ministers gathered in Hong Kong for this week’s
meeting remain deeply concerned with the current state of affairs
in global trade talks. They are particularly concerned with
how ‘development issues’ are finding expression
in on-going talks.
Ahead of the WTO Ministerial, the Caribbean cautioned against
any further slippage in addressing ‘development issues’.
At a recent summit of Caribbean Leaders that took place in Barbados
December 8, “deep disappointment” was expressed
over the limited progress that has been achieved in this area
in negotiations to date (see Declaration of Bridgetown, at www.crnm.org).
Leaders stressed the importance of infusing a “development
dimension” in WTO talks. They also characterized recent
WTO rulings on bananas and sugar as having a devastating impact
on the region, noting that these “unilateral and unprincipled
EU decisions on sugar and bananas” will impact negatively
on the social and economic development of the Caribbean.
Caribbean Trade Ministers on Tuesday emphasized that the extent
to which the goals and mandates of the Doha Development Agenda
are being achieved in WTO talks must be judged by how vulnerable
developing countries are treated.
Vulnerable because of their levels of poverty and/or small size,
issues germane to such countries must be a priority of the Hong
Kong WTO Ministerial meeting. This was the message Caribbean
Trade Ministers relayed to WTO Director General Pascal Lamy,
in a bilateral meeting with him today.
Doha Round negotiations have so far failed to address the plight
of the WTO’s most vulnerable Members.
Dissatisfied with this state of affairs, Director General of
the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) Ambassador
Dr. Richard Bernal, who is heading a team of RNM officials at
the Hong Kong Ministerial, said “this Ministerial meeting
is an opportunity to immediately and meaningfully take action
to correct a situation which is both economically untenable
and politically unacceptable. Anything less will be a clear
signal to those small, vulnerable countries committed to the
negotiations that there is a lack of will to address issues
germane to them, and to those that question the WTO process
it will be viewed as an affirmation of their cynicism.”