Oxfam applauds Brazilian move to give poorest countries free market access, urges other countries to follow suit

Published: 4 December 2006

International agency Oxfam today welcomed news that the Brazilian government will allow duty free access to its markets for products from the world's 50 poorest countries and urged other governments to follow Brazil's example.

Celine Charveriat, Head of Oxfam International's Make Trade Fair campaign said: "This is a very welcome move from Brazil. It will give these countries a real chance to use trade to boost development and lift people out of poverty. We congratulate the Brazilian government, and urge them to implement the system as soon as possible, with minimal exceptions."

Oxfam said that Brazil's announcement set an example for other countries to follow, particularly the US, which continues to impose significant restrictions on key imports from Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

"As a developing country Brazil was not obliged to make this move. They have done so, ahead of any deadline set by the World Trade Organization (WTO), and before other countries in a much stronger position," said Charveriat.

"With the multilateral trade negotiations stalled, this offers an alternative way of moving forward the pro-development trade reform agenda. The US, Japan, and other countries in a position to do so, should follow Brazil's example immediately and put forward unconditional 100% duty-free, quota-free offers of their own."

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) estimates that LDCs, along with eight other low-income countries, would see their real income increase by $7 billion if all OECD countries offered 100% duty-free, quota-free access to their markets. This is the equivalent to the extra money needed annually to attain universal primary education.

Oxfam said that the concerns of groups in Brazil and other countries that increased imports from LDCs represented a threat to national industry were overstated.

Celine Charveriat: "The products that these countries export pose a minimal threat to industry in more advanced countries. With simple and transparent rules of origin, and a functioning customs system, abuse of the concessions can be easily avoided. Special interests should not be allowed to block moves that could have a significant positive effect on poverty."

Contact Information

For more information contact:
Amy Barry, Oxfam International in Brasilia, + 55 61 3321 4044, abarry@oxfam.org.uk