CAFOD alarmed by African exclusion from secret trade talks

 CAFOD is alarmed that Africa has been left out of exclusive trade talks taking place between the 'G6' group of countries in London this weekend. The USA, Australia and Japan will be at the meeting set up by the EU. The only two developing countries represented are India and Brazil. The G6 are heralding the talks as an important moment for the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) 'Development Round'. However, the G6 meeting is informal, takes place behind closed doors and leaves 120 other countries on the sidelines. CAFOD's trade analyst Matt Griffith said: "It's difficult to understand how a meeting headlined as a 'make or break' moment can exclude the whole continent of Africa from participation. With no presence at the table, Africa, and the vast majority of developing countries, has no say in its outcomes." Griffith continued: "It's unbelievable that after all the attention on Africa last year, those rich countries normally so keen to promote their so called 'development' credentials have now ignored the continent entirely. "The danger is that the vast majority of developing countries could be faced with a Hobson's choice - agree to an imbalanced deal in which you've had no say or be portrayed as the cause of a collapse in the talks. This is not the way to produce outcomes that are good for poor people." This weekend's G6 meeting is said to be an opportunity to broker a breakthrough in trade negotiations. stated aim of the G6 talks is for 'simultaneous compromises' to herald a breakthrough in the negotiations. The EU and US's refusal to go further on reforming their agricultural subsidies has been oupled with pressure on India and Brazil to open their markets to rich countries such as the EU and the US. CAFOD says this will leave poorer countries in a dangerous position, as any offers made by India and Brazil will bind all other developing countries. These countries have neither the same ability to exploit opportunities that Brazil and India have nor the same room for manoeuvre to protect their vulnerable people. For a trade deal to work for the poor, CAFOD says rich countries must make the first move on reforming their damaging agricultural policies, whilst at the same time fully taking into account the concerns of developing countries and their need to give the poorest in society the means to support themselves.

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