Oxfam: Crisis in world trade must be addressed at UNCTAD XI

Published: 1 November 2005

Six of the ten poorest countries in the world are less prosperous than they were twenty years ago, according to a report, The Rural Poverty Trap, released by international agency Oxfam today. On the eve of the eleventh United Nation’s Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XI) to be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil from June 13-18, Oxfam is calling for change to the world trade rules so that they work for the poor.

Katia Maia, Head of Oxfam International’s delegation to UNCTAD XI said: “World trade continues to fail the poorest people and the current global negotiations are in crisis. Many developing countries are getting poorer not richer. They are missing out on their share of the benefits of globalization because of unfair trade rules. UNCTAD XI is a vital opportunity to find solutions to this inequality. ”
Amid calls for a reduction in the powers of UNCTAD, Oxfam is defending the organization’s role as a promoter of pro-poor trade and development.
Maia: “UNCTAD may not make the rules of world trade but it has an influence over the people that do. The collapse in the price of commodities and the persistence of rich country protectionism mean that more than ever developing countries need their voices to be heard. UNCTAD can help them show rich countries why it’s time for change."
Oxfam’s report quotes a farmer from Logokourani in Burkina Faso whose words show the effect of the collapse in commodity prices, one of the issues to be addressed at UNCTAD XI: "Cotton here is everything. It built our schools and our health clinics. We all depend on cotton. But if prices stay this low, we have no hope for the future”.
Oxfam is calling for an end to export dumping and the introduction of mechanisms to achieve price stability in the commodities market as some of the reforms necessary for a fairer global trading system.
Increased political and financial support for UNCTAD is essential if it is to continue to provide a forum for developing country governments to discuss pro-poor development, carry out independent research on key economic issues, and offer technical assistance to developing countries.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) will meet on the sidelines of UNCTAD XI. Following the recommendations of the draft UNCTAD XI text, ministers should move fast to agree reforms that will get the Doha Development Round back on track, including allowing developing countries to protect sensitive agricultural sectors, reforming all trade-distorting subsidies, and ending export dumping.


Contact Information

For media enquires or to receive a copy of Oxfam’s report contact:
Amy Barry: 44 (0)7876 476402 or 55 (11) 9957-4196, abarry@oxfam.org.uk
David Viñuales: 34 699 075 282 or 55 (11) 9961-6158 davidvinuales@hotmail.com
Liana Cisneros: 55 (11) 9940-8038 lcisneros@oxfam.org.pe