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WTO NEWS: 1999 PRESS RELEASES

Press/134
1 September 1999
Moore calls for greater efforts to assist poor countries

Director-General Mike Moore began his term in office, 1 September, by calling on the world's trading powers to do everything they can to bring the poorest nations into the multilateral trading system by opening their markets to goods produced in the Least Developed Countries and by contributing more to technical co-operation programmes.

Mr. Moore, the first non-European Director-General, said that assisting the Least Developed Countries would be a top priority during his tenure and that he planned to meet with officials from developing and developed countries in the coming weeks to work on solutions for incorporating the LDCs more fully into the trading system so that they can share in the benefits which have raised living standards so markedly in the advanced countries and in the emerging economies.

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"The very poor, the Least Developed Countries, still don't get the access they need for their products and the technical assistance to fully engage so that they can sit at the table of our global family and share equally and fully. It would not cost the rich nations much to wipe away barriers for the poorest countries.

"There is no denying the importance of trade to development. In the past 25 years, 1.5 billion people in 10 developing countries have had their incomes doubled and trade has been a crucial element in raising the living standards of these people. Over the last 15 years, the share of developing countries in world trade overall has increased from 20% to 25% and within 10 years this figure will rise to more than 30%. But the fact is, that more needs to be done. Three billion people live on less than $2 per day. This is unacceptable and we must, all of us, redouble our efforts at eradicating poverty.

"The World Trade Organization will join with others to win this battle. The good work of the United Nations, UNCTAD, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the International Trade Centre and the WTO needs to be better co-ordinated.

"But the WTO has a vital role to play. Through a system of rules, agreed by consensus by our 134 member governments, the WTO has created a system where the little guy not only has a say, but where he can protect and defend his trading rights. It must be said that trade in itself will not solve all the world's problems, yet without trade the world's problems will be made much worse. Developing countries seeking to improve the lives of their citizens will have one very important avenue to prosperity closed to them. Trade remains a key element in sustaining and spreading the benefits of interdependence.

"At our Ministerial Conference in Seattle it is vital that WTO Member Governments dedicate themselves to finding solutions to problems of the poorest countries. We need these solutions now – not in seven or eight years.

"The negotiating agenda for Seattle is still being shaped. But we need to go beyond those sectors, agriculture and services, where negotiations have been mandated. No other issue is as important as addressing the plight of the poor nations.

"In the coming weeks and months, I will be meeting with government officials, members of civil society, academics and journalists in an effort to advance this cause. The WTO is an organization which stands for fairness and equity. It is an organization which is based on the rule of law, not force. The WTO was created to give each nation, each member government, the opportunity to raise standards of living, to expand the production of and trade in goods and services and to promote sustainable development. I intend to devote all my efforts to ensuring that we live up to that promise."