Saturday, February 03, 2007

Lamy Tours African States to Revive Doha Round

Saturday, 3, February, 2007 (15, Muharram, 1428)

Tang Li, Arab News

SINGAPORE, 3 February 2007 — As part of the efforts to drive the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization, the WTO’s Director-General Pascal Lamy is on a tour of East Africa that began on Thursday and continued through Feb. 6.

During his tour, Lamy will meet the presidents of Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya as well as government representatives, parliamentarians, civil society and business leaders in these countries.

The Doha Development Agenda, which was launched in 2001 in the Qatari capital, is meant to balance the global trading system in favor of developing countries all around the world. However, the trade negotiations have not only been met with criticism by NGO’s and civil society groups but also been held up through disagreements between the industrialized and developing worlds.

The East African nations of Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya are amongst the world’s poorest. However, in recent years, these nations, particularly Uganda, have been working with global institutions such as the World Bank and IMF to implement economic reform programs in order to improve their economies. According to the latest World Bank figures, the three East African Nations saw more than 10 percent rise in the export of goods and services and combined net inflow of foreign direct investment of $788 million. However, per capita income in Uganda, for example, has declined to around 2 percent per year since 1999 compared to a peak of 3.2 percent in the early 90’s, showing a slowdown in growth even as these neo-liberal trade policies have gone into effect in post-conflict Uganda. Nevertheless, 2 percent growth is considered relatively high for a region rife with poverty, conflict and unemployment.

The WTO’s chief will see him making the case for closer economic integration into the world trading system. On Feb. 5 in Kenya, Lamy will speak at the joint WTO-UNEP (UN Environment Program) round table on environment and trade. In a statement released by the WTO, it was noted that, “Environment is an integral part of the WTO agenda as well as an important feature of the Doha Round negotiations. Trade can play an important role in protecting the environment through the elimination of environmentally harmful subsidies, or by improving market access conditions for goods and services that are beneficial for the environment. “

Lamy declared “East African countries are fully engaged in the on-going WTO trade talks under the Doha Development Agenda. I am here to discuss how we can all work together to bring this round to a successful conclusion that will secure the developmental benefits to Africa in particular”.

No comments: