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Dr Janez Drnovsek: Next for global trade talks

Article of the President of the Republic Dr Janez Drnovšek published in International Herald Tribune on 24 November 2005.

Article of the President of the Republic Dr Janez Drnovšek in International Herald Tribune on November 24, 2005 and published November 25, 2005 - page 9.

Next for global trade talks
The contradiction between the rhetoric of the rich countries and what is actually going on in World Trade Organization negotiations is evident. Recently, representatives from African nations and others from the least developed countries warned that current proposals in the current round of global trade talks do not improve their development prospects.
The inequities within the system of international trade are well known. To name but a few of the problems: export subsidies in agriculture by most rich countries; the dumping of heavily subsidized agricultural commodities on developing countries and high import tariffs for agricultural products from developing countries.
The behavior of the major trading blocks, pointing fingers at each other and assigning blame for unfair trade practices, is neither convincing nor acceptable.
It is important that all rich countries stand behind the commitments they have made in the past.
The potential benefits of reaching a fair trade agreement are immense. Improved access to rich markets and access to new technologies and medicines can bring positive change for the developing world. Moreover, developing countries could finally start climbing the ladder of industrialization in the way that developed countries did in past decades.
Of course, developing countries must be allowed to adopt a development model that suits their conditions best and individually assume the responsibility for their success.
The present global imbalances are not only disastrous, but also unsustainable. Rich countries and their leaders have a unique historical opportunity to help reverse these trends. They should take the risk of listening not only to well-organized interest groups, but also to humanity at large.

Janez Drnovšek, President of Slovenia
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