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CUTS-ARC: Civil Society Consultative Forum on Least Developed Countries (LDC)

Livingstone, Zambia

23 - 25 June 2005

[Introduction]  [Programme]  [Papers]  [Civil Society Memorandum]  [Civil Society Statement]
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Civil Society Memorandum to the Meeting of the Ministers Responsible for Trade in Least Developed Countries (LDCs)

Civil Society participants working on trade, development, debt and poverty eradication met in Livingstone on 23-25 June, 2005 on the occasion of the LDC Trade ministers meeting. The aim of the meeting was to provide input into the deliberations of the trade experts and Ministers.

We take this opportunity to communicate to the Trade Ministers' meeting our views on LDC countries concerns and positions on the on-going trade negotiations in the World Trade Organization as well as regional trade agreements, especially the Economic partnership Agreements (EPAs) currently being negotiated and where 39 LDCs are parties.

In this context, we express our appreciation of the Cairo Road map and the AU Declaration on the EPA negotiations from the 3rd AU trade ministers meeting in Cairo, June 7-9 2005. We also appreciate the outcome of the 2nd South Summit of G77 and China, Doha, June 12-16, 2005. We note that both expresses sensitivity to the special challenges the LDC faces in the context of globalization.

Experience has shown us that free market principles tied to development have been fundamentally flawed for the majority of LDCs. There is a need to change the focus to a domestic demand driven structure in favour of local entrepreneurs. Therefore the 6th WTO ministerial meeting should adopt pro-poor trade policies that are driven by global commitment to sustainable development and poverty eradication.

We recognize that reliance on market mechanisms alone is insufficient to meet the challenge of development in a globalizing world economy and to achieve national, regional and the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

We therefore urge the LDC Ministers to promote national efforts to sustainable human development and attainment of the MDGs. Further, we recognize the importance of debt cancellation in releasing resources to social and economic development. We call for total and unconditional debt cancellation for all LDCs.

We note that four years since the adoption of the Doha Work Programme (DWP), there is little evidence of progress in tackling the developmental concerns of LDCs and other developing countries which were proclaimed as pivotal to the success of the Doha agenda. On the contrary, as evident in their proposals, the rich and powerful industrialized countries of the WTO continue to pressurise for deeper commitments in the direction of further liberalization in crucial sectors such as agriculture, services, binding industrial tariffs. Also the rich countries try to tighten instead of securing rules that gives access to non-reciprocal regional trade agreements (RTAs).

The lack of progress on the SDT and implementation issues manifests the absence of commitment by the major trading partners to promote development within the multilateral trading regime. LDCs and other developing countries face the prospect that the current imbalances in the international trade regime threaten their economies and peoples.

We urge the LDC governments to remain firm in articulating and sustaining positions which promote the interests of their people and their economies, and to continue efforts to strengthen unity and solidarity among countries of the South.

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