Second LDC Trade Ministers'
LDC TRADE MINISTERS MEET TO PLAN FOR CANCUN
Trade ministers from the world´s 49 least developed countries (LDCs) will meet in Dhaka, Bangladesh from 31 May to 2 June to adopt a common position for the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancún.
LDCs are particularly concerned about how trade liberalization is affecting sectors like agriculture, textiles and services, on which their economies depend heavily. The reduction of subsidies and tariffs, market access, intellectual property rights and special and differential treatment for the LDCs will all be on the table in Dhaka, among other issues. Their concerns have been heightened by the fact that none of the deadlines set for the negotiations has thus far been met.
LDC participation in the multilateral trading system remains a major challenge for these countries and for the international community. Their share in world trade is a miniscule 0.5%, and some of the preferences they currently enjoy are being gradually eroded. Thirty LDCs are members of the WTO, but their membership dates back to the WTO´s predecessor, the GATT; no LDC has been admitted since the WTO´s creation in 1995. Ten LDCs are currently seeking accession: Bhutan, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Nepal, Samoa, Sao Tomé and Principe, Sudan, Vanuatu and Yemen.
Since the Uruguay Round of trade talks in 1986, UNCTAD has been helping LDC trade negotiators to understand the issues involved in their negotiations at the WTO and in the agenda-setting process. But the increasing complexity of the negotiations makes it imperative for the weakest members of the global trading community - the LDCs - not only to join forces but also to capitalize on the capacity-building initiatives and other support provided by partner institutions. UNCTAD has been a key player in that regard.
The Dhaka meeting will lay some of the groundwork for moving the negotiations forward from the LDC perspective. More generally, it will also furnish critical input to the post-Doha process of multilateral trade negotiations and trade agreements.
The Government of Bangladesh is hosting the meeting in its capacity as Coordinator of the LDC Consultative Group in the WTO. The meeting begins with a two-day session among senior officials (31 May-1 June), to be followed by the ministerial session on 2 June. Deputy Secretary-General Carlos Fortin will lead the UNCTAD delegation.
The first meeting of LDC Trade Ministers (Zanzibar, Tanzania, July 2001) adopted a common negotiating platform for the LDCs for the Fourth WTO Ministerial, held in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001. In Zanzibar the Ministers agreed to hold future such meetings prior to each WTO Ministerial Conference.
At the request of the host Government, UNCTAD is providing technical and logistical support for the Meeting. Financial support has come from the Governments of Belgium, Finland, Norway and the United Kingdom, as well as from the European Commission.
T: +41 22 907 5828
Mr. Habib Ouane
Pan-Pacific Sonargaon Hotel,
Mr. Marcel Namfua
T: +8802 811 1005/2011
F: +8802 912 7029/811 3324
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