UN Chief Says World "Desperately" Needs WTO Deal

Cambodian women fish in a lake to earn their livelihood at Oyadao district in Rottanakiri province, January 2007. (AFP Photo)

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday said a successful conclusion to long-stalled global trade talks was desperately needed to help lift millions out of poverty.
"The world desperately needs a successful conclusion to the Doha trade negotiations," Ban told a meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council in Geneva.

"Existing trade barriers, agricultural subsidies, and restrictive rules on intellectual property rights reinforce global inequities -- and they make a mockery of our tall claims to eliminate hunger and poverty from the world," he said.

However, the chances of a deal in the short-term look scant after the collapse last month of talks between four key powers in the World Trade Organisation, the so-called "G4" group of the European Union, United States, Brazil and India.

The talks on a new global trade agreement, launched with great fanfare in the Qatari capital Doha six years ago, have been mired in an impasse between developed and developing countries over agricultural subsidies, tariffs and market access.

Ban Ki-moon also reiterated calls for developed countries to be more generous with overseas aid in order to help meet the UN's Millennium Development Goals of halving extreme poverty by 2015.

"I cannot stress strongly enough the need for developed nations to keep their promises. They have to meet the 0.7 percent Official Development Assistance target."

"Today, I urge donors to issue timelines for scaling up aid to reach their target commitments by 2010 and 2015," he said.

According to a UN report issued Monday, there has been "mixed" progress at meeting the Millennium Development Goals, with millions still living in poverty in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Source: AFP

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