World Trade Organisation conference pledges USD90-M to boost trade in poor countries

NAIROBI, Dec. 15 (PNA/Xinhua) -- Ministers of trade from around the world have pledged 90 million U.S. dollars to finance initiatives to boost trade in poor countries over the next seven years, officials said.

With the threat of failed talks hanging over the Nairobi Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the pledging of the 90 million dollars to finance initiatives to improve access to the world's trading markets for the poor countries would be celebrated as a major achievement.

Earlier, the WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo and the Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade (UNCTAD) Mukhisa Kituyi, said the successful holding of the pledging conference would be a success of the ministerial meeting, bringing together 161 ministers of trade.

The ministerial conference is also looking at the possibility of striking an agreement on the contentious removal of export subsidies that has made the international price of cotton much lower.

The pledging conference was held just hours after the Chinese government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the WTO, to offer assistance to the poor countries to effectively participate in the trade facilitation.

At the donor pledging conference, several rich countries pledged to provide funds to the WTO's Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) to assist poor countries improve their ability to trade internationally.

"The Least Developed Countries have access to the international markets but they cannot compete effectively because they lack the skills, the skilled personnel and have no real guaranteed access to the markets in other countries such as Europe," said Mario Musa of the EIF Secretariat.

The funds would be used to provide trade support services to some 48 countries categorized as Least Developed Countries over the next seven years to improve their capacity to trade by developing their export sectors. It is also meant to provide support for firms involved in the cotton trade and textiles, agricultural commodities and professional services in the manufacturing sector.

The WTO also uses the funds to provide skilled workers to countries that need help to develop policies that would enable their countries to use the international markets as a basis for fighting poverty.

"The LDCs need a few things to help them use trade to reduce poverty. These countries represent 12 percent of the world's population but only account for 1.2 percent of the world trade. They also lack opportunities to attract investment," Musa told Xinhua.

"These funds would be used to integrate them. They would be spent on helping the countries to understand the opportunities they have to trade and how to deal with the constraints facing them in the international trading arena." (PNA/Xinhua)

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