CAFOD says G8 has failed to keep trade reform pledges

 G8 leaders met at Gleneagles one year ago facing calls from Make Poverty History campaigners for action on aid, debt, and trade to end poverty in the developing world. Although some progress was made on aid and debt, CAFOD said that G8 leaders failed to come up with reforms on trade, the most crucial of the three issues in the long-term. G8 leaders vowed to make trade work for development at World Trade Organisation talks but CAFOD says that over the last year poorer countries have instead been squeezed out of talks and their demands dismissed. At trade talks taking place next week in Geneva, CAFOD fears that the world's most powerful trading blocks will cement an unfair deal for the world's poor. CAFOD Director Chris Bain said: "Under enormous pressure from Make Poverty History, the G8 leaders made some progress on aid and debt. Debt relief and increased aid resources are boosting education and health in some of the world's poorest countries and lives have been saved. "But what the G8 gave with one hand, they have taken away with the other. Developing countries must be allowed to trade their way out of poverty. Instead of being given that chance, the world's richest countries have hijacked trade talks to protect their own interests, and condemned the world's poor to further impoverishment." For example, the package agreed at Gleneagles has seen Zambia's debt burden drop from US$7.1 billion and will come down to US$502 million this year. The Zambian government will be saving US$180 million a year in debt service. Zambia has announced plans to recruit 4,000 new teachers and scrap healthcare fees. But the future looks bleak for Zambia's rural population, who make up over sixty percent of Zambia's population. Zambia and other African countries have faced fierce opposition at the WTO to their proposals to be able to safeguard their farmers against sudden surges of cheap agricultural imports. Over forty trade ministers are expected to meet at the WTO in Geneva next week to attempt to come to an agreement that would conclude the current round of trade talks. Developing countries are facing aggressive demands from G8 countries to open their agricultural markets and resistance to their proposals to be able to protect their vulnerable producers. CAFOD Trade Analyst Matt Griffith said: "A zero on trade at Gleneagles is in danger of turning into a minus next week in Geneva. We have learned that poor countries can expect only token gains from trade talks but the EU and the US look like surpassing even these low expectations. These talks threaten to expose the world's poorest people to competition from the world's largest and most subsidised producers. "Rich countries are calling for the bridging of differences, but are expecting poor countries to wade through the water to meet them. "Asking for further sacrifices that rest entirely upon pain from the poorest is no way to conduct a development round"

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