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AAPSO Statement towards the UNCTAD XI

UNCTAD XI STIRS HIGH EXPECTATIONS

When the world trade talks broke down in Cancun on September 14th, 2003, attention has drawn up  high expectations  by the poor countries of the developing world regarding the next meeting of the UNCTAD which they see an alternative capable of bringing about issues they are facing related to trade and development.


Since Cancun has collapsed, the previous Doha conference, where negotiations were marked by bitter acrinomy between rich and poor, had formulated designs to reduce trade-distorting farm support, slash tariffs on farm goods, eliminate agricultural-export subsidies, cut industrial tariffs, free up trade on services and negotiate global rules in competition, investment and transparency..The reaction of the developing countries to such designs was that what happened in Cancun to opppose the policy of great powers regarding their self-interests. Such crisis is a consequence of the resounding and irreversible failure of an economic and political conception related to  neo-liberal globalization.

The world is being integrated  with the global economy within the process of globalization. Increasingly handicaped by its negative effects which seriously hampered their ability to elaborate any strategy of development, the poor countries and the developing world become more and more marginalized. Income gaps within and among countries remain  wide, the number of people living in poverty has increased. Asymmetries and imbalances in the international economy have intensified. If we have to examine the strenghts and weaknesses in the frame of global economy, the striking reality is that the rich become richer and the poor poorer.

West African cotton farmers are being crushed by rich countries' subsidies, particularly the 3 billion-plus dollar a year that the United States lavishes on its 25,000 cotton farmers. Similar picture is attributed to the European countries' policy of subsidies. The costs of transporting African exports to foreign markets are five times higher than the tariffs paid on those goods. According to the World Bank, complete liberalization of merchandise trade and elimination of subsidies could add 1,5 trillion dollar to developing countries' income, and reshaping the world's trading system and reducing barriers to trade in goods could reduce the number of poor in developing countries by 300 million by 2015 and boost the global income by as much as 2,8 trillion dollar over the next ten years.

The problematic remains as unexpectative as the question on how to reach such targets if, for example, rich countries pay out 1 billion dollar a day to their farmers in agricultural subsidies; that is more than 6 times all development assistance going to poor nations. Six or eight countries control 86% of GNP in the world and 82% of its markets. 80% of products of world consumption are monopolized by 20% of the world's population. Nothing has been effected to relieve indebted South countries from the unbearable servicing of their debt and their own debts ( which amounted to 2,030 billion US dollars in 1999). UNCTAD had previously stated that if debts of the poorest countries in the world were written off today, the lives of 21 million children will be saved. From its part, UNICEF stressed that the world could meet basic human needs for everyone on earth by redirecting $70 billion to $80 billion a year, or less than 10% of the world military spending ( around $700 billion in 2002), to this purpose. Moreover, 56% of word population live in poverty; 1,2 billion have an income of less than one dollar per day and 2,8 billion have two dollars per day.

Against the above backdrop, developing countries as a whole, and the poorest among them in  particular, are facing growing uncertainties. Formidable challenges remain ahead. These countries have to address their structural problems which have been exacerbated by social and human sufferings, dislocation and misleading adjustments policies. They have to define strategies which will strengthen and sustain economic growth, improving and reinforcing process of development seriously affected by the negative impacts of the globalisation. But its positive aspects also are to be explored aiming at maintaining characteristics as necessary conditions for sustain economic growth and developmental process.

eveloping countries continue to starve from lacking capital and liquidity for their economic development. The distribution of benefits of development inside and outside countries is marked by strong imbalances aggravated by the deep-rooted culture of corruption. Investments have declined due to economic vulnerability and absence of viable infrastructure of the poor countries. Access to new technology remains one of the biggest challenges they have to address in order to narrow the gap between them and the technologically advanced countries. With this respect, a large category  of people should be initiated with the new technology, thus allowing them to acquire adequate education to meet the challenge of the present state of world information technology; to bring them up to the level of being able to be more involved in the trade and development system and procedures.

The problematic of globalisation and its neo-liberal system stands in the forefront of the daily life of developing world. To elaborate strategies within this context, the root causes of poverty must be addressed as priority. The human resources are the engine of development. Together with their natural resources, they happen to be eroded by brain drain, pillages, overexploitation, deseases like AIDS; their scarce savings are deviated to arms procurements or to overpriced drugs to meet their illness. Under such circumstances, any strategy  to meet the challenges  may appear to be " pious vow", leaving the poor countries as a whole to be pushed into the abyss of an acute human and social polarization.

Within this framework, all countries and mainly the developing world, are expecting an increasing role of the  UNCTAD in meeting the challenges they are facing in order to ensure the effective integration of all countries into the international trading system, to improve supply capabilities, to overcome the debt problem, to generate adequate financial flow for development, to focus on acute poverty and growing inequality within and among nations. Prerequisites should be created for a prosperous, peaceful and secure world. It is imperative to promote genuine partnership which requires more inclusive, transparent and participatory institutional arrangements for economic decision-making so as to ensure that all commitments contained in every  programme of action should be fully  implemented.

As an international non-governmental organisation, the Afro-Asian Peoples' Solidarity Organisation-AAPSO- stresses the need for the developing countries to strengthen their rank and reinforce their solidarity movement against the negative effects of policy of neoliberalism, discriminatory measures aimed at minimizing their ability to play a  decisive role in the decision-making system and trade-related and development institutions. Their capacity as a driving force to reverse the lamentable situation needs to be given new impetus, strong demonstration of political  will and determination within the framework of globalizing world economy. Those are challenges which stirs high expectations among developing countries in their relation with the UNCTAD.

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