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Brussels, 30 November 2005

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson meets G90 leaders in Brussels

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has today met with representatives of the G90 group of developing countries at their Ministerial Summit in Brussels. G90 Ministers discussed the group’s position in the Doha Development Agenda trade negotiations ahead of December’s Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting. Addressing G90 Ministers Commissioner Mandelson urged them to act decisively to ensure that the interests of all developing countries are strongly defended in Hong Kong. Commissioner Mandelson reiterated the EU’s proposal for agreement of a package of development measures at Hong Kong.

Speaking after the meeting Commissioner Mandelson said: “The Doha Round is different from all previous trade rounds because it is focused on ensuring that the world’s poorest countries benefit from the global trading system. Any final outcome that does not reflect their needs will be unacceptable to Europe. Through its preferential market access schemes Europe already has the most open market for developing country agricultural goods in the world. Europe takes more farm exports from Africa than the rest of the world combined, and most of that produce enters the EU market tariff and quota free. The EU has proposed steep cuts in its agricultural tariffs – the steepest we have ever offered. But we have not and will not agree to cuts that would eliminate the preferential access we offer to African and Caribbean countries, as other’s proposal imply. For the sake of development a serious negotiation must now converge on ambitious but realistic middle ground. The voice of the G90 must not be absent from that debate.”

Putting balance back in the Doha negotiations...

The EU has insisted that Doha talks now move into important negotiations on trade in industrial goods and services. It is sometimes suggested that this is not in the interest of the poorest; but African countries do the bulk of their trade and pay their highest tariffs in industrial goods – and they pay them to other African countries. Chipping away at these barriers where countries feel able is an important part of a development round.

At Hong Kong Africa and Europe are committed to working together for a properly balanced Doha Round that reflects the needs of all, and puts trade genuinely at the service of development.

...and agreeing a Development package at Hong Kong.

Alongside progress at Hong Kong on market access, Europe has proposed that a package of development measures be agreed to refocus the round on its development goals. Among other elements:

  • The EU has called for all developed countries to offer tariff and quota free access to all LDCs, on the model of the European Union’s Everything But Arms system.
  • The EU believes that the WTO must adopt a package on special and differential treatment to reconfirm the flexibilities for LDCs that already exist in the WTO. There should be no tariff cuts for Least Developed Countries.
  • The EU will be pushing to enshrine in the WTO’s intellectual property agreements the conditions for a better access to cheap drugs against pandemics.
  • To help build vital capacity to trade, the EU will call for a substantial Aid for Trade package along the lines of what was agreed at the Gleneagles G8 Summit. Europe already gives more Trade Related Assistance to the developing world every year than the rest of the World combined. It is time for others to share the burden.
  • On cotton, which is a crucial area for West Africa the EU has led the way in eliminating its export subsidies and reducing its trade distorting subsidies to a level where they no longer affect the global price. The EU also offers duty and quota free access to all cotton imports from West Africa. The EU will call on others to make similar commitments at Hong Kong.

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