Civil Society Statement to the Trade Experts Meeting preparing for the Meeting of the Ministers Responsible for Trade in Least Developed Countries (LDCs)
Honourable Chairperson and Minister Patel, Honourable Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen, first of all we from civil society want to express our appreciation for being given the space to express our opinion at this meting. Our concern for the poor populations of the LDCs has guided our engagement to meet and to prepare this statement regarding the on-going trade negotiations in the World Trade Organization as well as regional trade agreements.
Experience has shown us that free market principles tied to development has 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 guided by global commitment to sustainable development and poverty eradication.
We note that since the adoption of the Doha Work Programme there is little evidence of progress on the development concerns of LDCs and other developing countries even though this were proclaimed as pivotal to the success of the Doha agenda. On the contrary, as evident of 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.