WASHINGTON DC (December 7, 2005) - With less than a week before negotiators converge on Hong Kong for the World Trade Organization Ministerial conference, Oxfam America has released a report warning that trade reforms that were promised four years ago to help developing countries may not reach fruition in Hong Kong.
Trade has the potential to lift millions out of poverty. However, what was meant to be a “development round” has been turned on its head, with powerful interests like the US and European Union demanding greater and greater concessions from poor countries but giving very little in return.
"We welcome new proposals and willingness from the US to move," said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. "But neither the US nor the EU have shown the kind of leadership necessary in these negotiations to dramatically improve the lives of poor people."
The global trade negotiations are deadlocked over the agricultural reform essential to help the world's poorest people. The world's most developed countries have not delivered on promises to end dumping and improve access for imports to poor countries. At the same time, developing countries are under increasing pressure to open up their own markets, even at the expense of their impoverished farmers. In the US, changes to the commodity subsidy program are key to these needed reforms.
"The current round of negotiations is not delivering on what it was designed to do: help developing countries," continued Offenheiser. "What's on the table now would not promote development and could even do more harm than good. Poor countries should not have to sign up to such a deal."