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29 September 1995

Norway provides $2.5 Million to launch a WTO fund for Least-Developed Countries

The government of Norway announced this week that it will contribute $2.5 million to a technical assistance fund to help poorer and least-developed countries, particularly in Africa, participate in the World Trade Organization and take advantage of new opportunities in international trade.

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The offer was made in Oslo during an official visit there by Mr. Renato Ruggiero, WTO Director-General.

During the visit with the Norwegian Minister of Trade, Mrs. Grete Knudsen, and the Norwegian Minister for Cooperation, Mrs. Kari Nordheim-Larsen, it was announced that the first contribution of $2.5 million is to be administered by the WTO. "The purpose of the fund," they said, is to assist "the poorer and least-developed countries to participate actively in the WTO and take advantage of the trade regime and the new market openings offered by the new agreement. We trust Norway very soon will be joined by others as contributors to this fund." The Ministers also called upon the WTO to collaborate with all relevant institutions, in particular the International Trade Centre and UNCTAD, in implementing the assistance fund.

Mr. Ruggiero welcomed Norway's generous contribution, saying it showed both vision and leadership. He said discussions between Norway, the WTO and other organizations on how the funds will be used will take place in the coming weeks. He said, "Even though we are close to a global economic consensus that expanding trade is the engine of growth and that a rules-based multilateral system is vital to continued growth and predictable markets, there is also another consensus: that is, that the situation of the least-developed countries, and Africa in particular, needs special attention. Enabling these countries to share more fully in the benefits of the global trading system is therefore a top priority."