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Loopholes undermine WTO deal for world's poor

The Caritas organisation for England and Wales has said that a deal at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva at the weekend will do little to help the world's poorest countries.

The Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD) pointed to lack of movement by rich countries on their damaging farm subsidies.

Although the agreement commits the European Union to eliminate export subsidies, CAFOD Policy Analyst Matthew Griffith said, "There is no agreed end date to the cuts. This is likely to allow the European Union to continue damaging poor countries' agriculture for years to come."

"Rich countries can drive a horse, cart and several herds of well-funded cattle through this agreement. The deal includes major loopholes that allow developed countries to continue subsidising at very high levels.

"After last year's half-hearted reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, the European Union in particular will see minimal requirements for any further change."

Developing countries are trying to ensure that their much larger and poorer farming population aren't flooded with cheap subsidised exports.
Rich bend the trade rules

But in the WTO deal, Japan and the EU have achieved much stronger wording for protection of their agricultural sectors than developing countries, despite less pressing needs.

"Throughout this agreement the one striking feature is that economic power bends the applicability of WTO rules. Poor countries face the twin obstacles of chronic poverty and weak promises as they try to increase their share of global trade," said Griffith.

Loopholes undermine WTO deal for the world's poor (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development 2/8/04)

Deal 'won't help poor' (The Mirror 2/8/04)
EU's lavish farm policy safe after WTO breakthrough: negotiators (EU Business)
WTO Deal Endangers Environment and Development (Friends of the Earth 1/8/04)
World Trade Organisation | Round-the-clock meetings produce 'historic' breakthrough

4 Aug 2004