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Trade Update, UNCTAD

22 June 2004 | AfricaFocus

Washington, DC – The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), held every four years, met in Brazil last week. Participants issued ringing statements in favor of South-South collaboration and the need for greater equity in the international trade arena. The meeting was virtually ignored by the press in the United States and other developed countries. Nevertheless, the conference was an indicator of greater international awareness, among almost all political currents, that the current bias against developing countries is both unfair and unsustainable.

The conference closing coincided with a ruling from the World Trade Organization (WTO) in favor of Brazil and other developing countries that U.S. cotton subsidies violate international trade rules by undercutting the prices of more efficient cotton producers in other countries.

On the sidelines of the UNCTAD meeting, the so-called “non-group 5” of the U.S., EU, Australia, India, and Brazil met and agreed that the interests of all parties, including developing countries, needed to be taken into account in the next stage of WTO talks on agriculture. Developing countries at the UNCTAD meeting, however, also stressed the importance of stepping up joint action outside the WTO negotiations.

For a nice log of the events of the conference, see Oxfam’s “Make Trade Fair” website; see also the UNCTAD website. –BL

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