Big players arrive at trade talks

Big players arrive at trade talks

By staff writers
10 Sep 2003

-10/9/03

Europe and the United States - often economic enemies - arrive at crucial world trade talks today lined up against some of the poorer nations, insisting that developing countries must make their share of concessions.

The Mexican beach resort of Cancun will host delegations from the 146 nations represented in the World Trade Organisation who face the task of breathing life into flagging talks on global trade.

Many Aid agencies including Christian Aid and catholic agency Cafod, say that say the collapse in the price of such goods as maize has had a devastating impact on communities which need urgent help.

Away from the city of Cancun thousands of Mexican farmers struggle each day to make ends meet in the face of cheap subsidised corn dumped into their country by the US.

Campaigners blame the free trade system that these World Trade Organisation negotiations may extend even further to open competition.

Farmers, who have given evidence to the Catholic aid agency Cafod, say the collapse in the price of maize has had a terrib;e impact.

Felipe Lerdo Hernandez, 35, farms maize on eight hectares. He has a daughter and two sons.

He said maize now sold for a peso a kilo compared with 2.5 pesos before Nafta. "The situation for Mexican farmers, especially poor campesinos, is completely different from that of the US farmers, who get big subsidies from their government." A bitter irony is that many young Mexicans are trying to move to the USto find a future. "Some have had to leave to earn money for the families," he said.

In the Zacatecas region, which has the country's largest emigration rates, entire communities live off remittances sent by relatives in the cities or the US, Cafod says.

Abram Castro Trejo, a campaign leader in Zacatecas, said: "People are abandoning their land in droves. This is what happens when they get a lower price for their crops than the cost of sowing and harvesting."

Campaign groups say the case of maize shows the danger of forcing small countries to open their markets to western countries that benefit from annual subsidies worth £220bn.

-10/9/03

Europe and the United States - often economic enemies - arrive at crucial world trade talks today lined up against some of the poorer nations, insisting that developing countries must make their share of concessions.

The Mexican beach resort of Cancun will host delegations from the 146 nations represented in the World Trade Organisation who face the task of breathing life into flagging talks on global trade.

Many Aid agencies including Christian Aid and catholic agency Cafod, say that say the collapse in the price of such goods as maize has had a devastating impact on communities which need urgent help.

Away from the city of Cancun thousands of Mexican farmers struggle each day to make ends meet in the face of cheap subsidised corn dumped into their country by the US.

Campaigners blame the free trade system that these World Trade Organisation negotiations may extend even further to open competition.

Farmers, who have given evidence to the Catholic aid agency Cafod, say the collapse in the price of maize has had a terrib;e impact.

Felipe Lerdo Hernandez, 35, farms maize on eight hectares. He has a daughter and two sons.

He said maize now sold for a peso a kilo compared with 2.5 pesos before Nafta. "The situation for Mexican farmers, especially poor campesinos, is completely different from that of the US farmers, who get big subsidies from their government." A bitter irony is that many young Mexicans are trying to move to the USto find a future. "Some have had to leave to earn money for the families," he said.

In the Zacatecas region, which has the country's largest emigration rates, entire communities live off remittances sent by relatives in the cities or the US, Cafod says.

Abram Castro Trejo, a campaign leader in Zacatecas, said: "People are abandoning their land in droves. This is what happens when they get a lower price for their crops than the cost of sowing and harvesting."

Campaign groups say the case of maize shows the danger of forcing small countries to open their markets to western countries that benefit from annual subsidies worth £220bn.

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