Bill will galvanize trade in the fight against poverty

By Oxfam

WASHINGTON, DC – International development organization Oxfam America praised yesterday’s introduction by Representative Jim McDermott (D - WA) of the “New Partnership for Trade Development Act,” which would help the world’s poorest countries use trade as a means out of poverty.

Paul O’Brien, Oxfam America’s Vice-President for Advocacy, who recently testified at a Committee on Ways and Means hearing on US Trade Preference Programs, made the following statement:

“Rep. McDermott’s initiative to substantially improve key trade preference programs will maximize benefits for all least developed countries (LDCs).  At a time when the global economic crisis is hitting poor countries the hardest, providing full and permanent access to the US market will offer these countries enhanced opportunities to use trade as a means to spur economic growth and poverty reduction.

“It makes no sense that we collect from Cambodia seven times as much in tariffs as we give them in aid. Or that for every dollar in aid the US provided to Bangladesh last year, Bangladesh paid nearly $4 in tariffs on goods exported here. The New Partnership for Trade Development Act would end this contradiction in our aid and trade policies by enacting into law the US commitment – in the context of the Millennium Development Goals and at the World Trade Organization - to provide duty-free and quota-free market access to all LDCs.

“This bill will go a long way toward making a reality many of the improvements to US trade preference programs that will deliver for development. This bill would not only provide full US market access for all LDCs, it would also simplify the rules of origin to make the program easier to use, and would create a presidential-level mechanism to coordinate much-needed trade capacity building efforts to help countries take advantage of trade opportunities. Most importantly, this bill would provide stability for developing countries and American businesses alike by making these benefits for LDCs permanent.

“While some additional reforms could be made to ensure all trade preference programs are most effective for the promotion of sustainable development, this bill would greatly help poor countries harness trade for development. We look forward to working with Representative McDermott and members of the Ways and Means Committee to ensure that this bill becomes the core of new legislation to improve US trade preference programs.”

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