Self-interest derailed Doha development talks, says church agency

By agency reporter
August 1, 2008

International development agency Christian Aid says the blame for the collapse of the latest Doha Development Round talks in Geneva lies squarely with major agricultural exporting countries putting self-interest above other considerations.

The talks were supposed to result in a deal that would help poorer countries develop through trade.

Central to the collapse was the failure to agree to a generous Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM), which would have enabled developing countries to impose or raise tariffs to protect their poor and vulnerable farmers from surges of agricultural imports.

‘No deal is better than a bad deal, when development is at stake,’ said Matthew Coghlan, Christian Aid’s senior economic justice advisor.

‘We applaud the stand that developing countries have taken throughout the talks in defending the livelihoods of the poorest and most vulnerable farmers. We hope that any future talks can place development firmly back on the agenda.’

While pushing for greater market access for their industrial products in developing countries, rich countries, particularly the United States and the European Union resisted calls to reduce the enormous subsidies that they hand out to agricultural producers.

This ‘domestic support’ is one of the main barriers to developing countries having a chance to trade their way out of poverty, for it funds cheaper agricultural produce against which farmers in poorer countries cannot compete.

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