CAFOD says Doha summit brings cold comfort to the poor

 The World Trade Organisation summit at Doha has been criticised by CAFOD for largely ignoring the needs of the poor. CAFOD Trade Analyst, Duncan Green, said: "This is a bad day for development. The EU and US have used a combination of threats and bribes to browbeat the developing countries into signing a bad agreement." On New Issues Patrick Nicholson from CAFOD, who attended the summit, said: "Developing countries will now be forced against their will into a new round of negotiations on new issues such as investment, which could harm their future chances of development. They will struggle to cope with large numbers of parallel and complex talks. The stage is set for a re-run of the Uruguay Round, repeating its outcome of unfair and unbalance agreements that have damaged the prospects of numerous developing countries." "At the 59th minute, on the 11th hour, the chairman of the conference was asked to rule on the meaning of 'explicit consensus' needed to agree negotiations on investment and competition in two years time. His ruling appeared to suggest that any country that felt it was unable to participate could block such negotiations. If this true, this is a significant reverse for the EU, which lobbied hard to put investment and competition on the WTO agenda." He added: "CAFOD has been calling for a new approach on trade, making trade rules that work for the poor, rather than being decided purely on the basis of narrow economic self-interest and commercial lobbying. Doha has failed to achieve this. The world's richest nations have turned their backs on the poor of the developing world." Positive Aspects Nicholson reported that were some positive achievements for developing countries. He said: "They faced down the US and big pharmaceutical corporations to ensure that public health needs come before patent protection. They have won some improved special treatment for poor countries within the WTO rules." On agriculture, he said, there was more good news: pressure on the EU to reduce their subsidies, which lead to the dumping of food on world markets, and strong language on the need for special treatment of poor countries which should lead to any future agreement acknowledging the crucial social role of agriculture in developing countries. What happens next? Nicholson said: "Doha marks the start of negotiations, not the end. Owing to the inclusion of new issues it is expected that they last longer than the scheduled three years. It is far too early to talk of a 'development round'. If trade rules are to be changed to benefit the world's poor, the Doha declaration's many references to development will need to be converted from pious hopes into action. To date, the WTO's track record on this is lamentable."

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