Globalization Offers New Markets for Developing Countries, but They Must be Able to Compete Fairly, Declare Participants at IFADs Governing Council Meeting

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Globalization Offers New Markets for Developing Countries, but They Must be Able to Compete Fairly, Declare Participants at IFAD's Governing Council Meeting

Press release number: IFAD 14/02

Rome, 20 February 2002 – Delegates expressed concern that while many developing countries had worked hard to remove trade barriers and take other measures in response to ongoing trade talks, industrialized countries had not kept up their side of the bargain. “With European Union subsidies it would be possible to send every European cow around the world on a business class ticket,” pointed out Roberto Bissio, Global Coordinator of the Social Watch, Uruguay.

Besides being a double standard, it’s not sustainable over the long term, only making poverty worse, agreed delegates. This was one of a number of issued examined at a panel discussion convened by IFAD on this year’s Governing Council theme, “Financing Development—the Rural Dimension.”

Each year, OECD countries spend about USD 350 billion on agricultural subsidies—a figure far higher than what they devote to official development assistance. At the same time, overly stringent quality standards often serve as trade barriers. The elimination of these restrictions would significantly enhance exports from poor countries and allow them to diversify their agriculture and become beneficiaries of globalization, not victims.

Earlier in the day, his Excellency President Olusegun Obasanj, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria also expressed concern about failed commitments to reduce trade subsidies. Hopes for fairer markets had been dashed he said “by the strategic protection given by the developed countries to their agriculture through export subsidies, tariffs, quotas and other restrictions on commodity imports from developing countries.”

Panel members and delegates voiced optimism that discussions today would lay the groundwork for substantive talks at next month’s International Conference on Finance for Development to be held in Monterrey Mexico 18– 22 March. That meeting will be an opportunity to re-examine commitments made at the UN Millennium Summit and find ways to achieve the target of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015.

IFAD is a specialized agency of the United Nations with the specific mandate of combating hunger and poverty in the most disadvantaged regions of the world. Since 1978 IFAD has financed 603 projects in 115 recipient countries and in the West Bank and Gaza for a total commitment of approximately USD 7.3 billion in loans and grants. Through these projects, about 250 million rural people have had a chance to move out of poverty. IFAD makes the greater part of its resources available to low-income countries on very favorable terms, with up to 40 years for repayment and including a grace period of up to ten years and a service charge of 0.75% per year.