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Righting the wrongs

UN Conference on Trade and Development may unblock the statemate of Cancun.
The stalemate reached at the World Trade Organization meeting in Cancun last year may be unblocked at the forthcoming ministerial meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rubens Ricupero declared yesterday at a press conference that the theme of the meeting will be "Enhancing coherence between national development strategies and global economic processes towards economic growth and development, particularly of developing countries".

The last part of the title is crucially important at a time when the developing world is locked out of free trade opportunities and tied down, while its resources are plundered by a corporate elite whose greed grows by the day, while supposedly equal competitors in more developed countries receive subsidies and other benefits to give them an unfair competitive edge and while tariffs are imposed on imported goods, closing the door firmly in the face of poorer countries who are trying to compete, but never on an equal footing.

If this is what the World Trade Organization has achieved so far, what a disgrace. Far from promoting free trading practices, this organization seems more like a rich men's club devoted to making the USA and EU richer and to tampering with any attempt to foster international competitiveness from the part of countries outside this axis.

As usual, institutions which are controlled by Washington say one thing and practise another. The UNCTAD meeting in Sao Paulo will be a useful barometer towards seeing how far this axis is prepared to bend, if at all, in redressing the imbalance in the international trading system and in allowing Less Developed Countries to gain access to their markets.

Closing them out and giving their own producers an unfair edge is not fair and equal trading. It is exclisive, it is elitism, it is downright unfair and Washington and its lackeys should be utterly ashamed of themselves for such barefaced hypocrisy.

But then again in today's world, what do you expect?