CUTS-ARC Lusaka urges LDCs to strategise before the WTO ministerial meeting

Consumer Unity and Trust Society-(CUTS) international welcomes the World Trade Organisation (WTO) General Council for setting 30 November to 2 December 2009 as the date for the Seventh Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference for it has been long overdue. The WTO meeting has not been held in the last four years.

CUTS Lusaka further takes this opportunity to urge Least Developing Countries (LDCs) Zambia inclusive to prepare themselves adequately before November so as to iron all their concerns in the WTO negotiations. It will be important that all the LDCs met in time so as to come up with a common position that will also engulf the current economic situation.

Further, CUTS Lusaka feels that LDCs should still push for a meaningful scenario that will lead to substantial cuts in total trade-distorting domestic subsidies in developed countries such as the US and the EU as his impacts negatively on LDCs to participate in trade. Minus doing this, distortions such as “Green Box subsidies” will continue creating a trade imbalance between LDCs and developed countries.

It is also important that LDCs should still push for the meaningful implementation of a bound duty- and quota-free market access to rich countries’ markets for all LDC products and countries for this will certainly facilitate a balance in trade.

On product coverage, it is also important that this is looked at critically for there is an escape clause that call for countries having difficulties in providing market access to provide access for 97% of products thus implying that developed countries will continue to protect “sensitive products” that are of export advantage to LDCs, such as sugar, rice, textiles and clothing, leather products and fishery products.

This certainly implies that LDCs will have market access for products they don’t produce at all or don’t produce competitively, but access can be blocked for those products in which they are competitive. They are only given rights in areas where they cannot realise these rights.

These issues need to be looked at critically before agreeing to a binding commitment that will not foster development but make LDCs poorer. Therefore CUTS-ARC Lusaka would like to take this opportunity to urge the WTO and other trading partners to adopt pro-poor policies that will facilitate development and poverty eradication.