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Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has told Heads of Government attending the Commonwealth Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta, that a strong and clear message should emanate from the meeting as to the urgent need for a successful conclusion to the Doha Development Round. Mr. Patterson, in making his contribution to the retreat of Heads on day two of the CHOGM, said the message to the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting should indicate that a positive outcome of the negotiations was expected.
Mr. Patterson observed that the negotiations have so far been slow and uneven, with several important deadlines missed and critical issues remaining unresolved. He said there was need for considerable progress, as expectations were falling lower and lower.
The Prime Minister said World Leaders were all in agreement that trade was the fuel for sustainable global growth and a key element in the eradication of poverty. He said however that for this to happen there must be equitability and the existence of a level playing field.
“The rules and arrangements for international trade must ensure a level playing field and that does not exist at the present time,” he asserted.
He pointed to considerable distortions in global agricultural policies and cited the need for appropriate policy space that would enable developing countries to undertake programmes that fulfill development objectives as they relate to matters such as the provision of adequate food supplies and rural development. He said consideration should be given to ensuring a reasonable timeframe and compensation provisions in the phasing out of preferential commodity arrangements particularly as they relate to developing countries.
The Prime Minister also spoke of matters relating to non-market access, tariff reductions and technical barriers to trade and pointed out that despite some achievements, there were structures still in place that hindered the competitiveness of developing countries. He called for the progressive liberalization of trade in services and said the global policy framework should facilitate the increased participation of developing countries in this area of international trade.
Mr. Patterson said overall development must be underpinned by improved access to technology in particular information technology and welcomed the attention being given to the subject by the CHOGM. The CHOGM is expected to provide solutions to bridging the digital divide among member countries and identify ways to strengthen mutual cooperation and investment in information and communication technology within the Commonwealth.