Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Least-Developed Countries

Article giving some background on the trade talks last month:
The LDCs [least-developed countries] will not be asked to make cuts in goods or farm tariffs in the Doha round, and their concerns in trade talks tend to be narrow and specific. One pressing matter is cotton subsidies. Four west African countries - Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad - that grow large amounts of cotton are hurt by the dumping of heavily subsidised American cotton on the world market. But most LDCs do not compete much with the products subsidised by Europe and the US, so such distortions are not quite the cause celebre that western NGO activism might suggest.

One of the main concerns of the remaining countries is their so-called “preferences” - special access rights to western markets, some longstanding, some more recent. Partly because of their poverty and partly because of the hangover of colonial preferences in Europe, these rights already give the least-developed countries much better access to western markets than those enjoyed by better-off developing countries such as China or Brazil. They want to secure these deals irrevocably into the future and remove some of the rules that complicate them. They also want the US and Japan to match the generosity of the EU’s scheme, which allows tariff-free access for almost all products.
 'Dipak and the Goliaths', FT Magazine, 10 Dec 2005 (subscribers only). More extracts here.

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