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Friday, May 26, 2006 

Annan pressures G8 on Caribbean trade aid
published: Friday May 26, 2006



UNITED NATIONS Secretary General Kofi Annan on Wednesday called on the leaders of the Group of Eight industrialised countries to adopt at their upcoming summit, bold trade liberalisation measures in aiding Caribbean and other developing countries.

In a letter to the leaders, ahead of their summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, in July, Annan said assistance should include duty- and quota-free access and aid in addressing the energy crisis "in a way that respects the environment.

"The lack of significant progress on trade is conspicuous, even perilous," he said in the letter to the leaders of Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

"Developing countries need genuine market access opportunities for their goods and services, and the least developed countries should enjoy duty-free and quota-free access for theirs," he added in the text of the letter released on Wednesday.

"It is also time for all trade-distorting subsidies for agriculture to be eliminated, and to do so rapidly for sensitive products," he continued, noting that many countries will need assistance in order to benefit from current and newly created opportunities, such as the so-called Aid for Trade programme.


"These are just some of the many sensible steps which, while fostering prosperity and opportunity for people everywhere, would allow poor and marginalised people, especially in the least developed countries, to lift themselves out of poverty," Annan said.

"Yet, I fear that the difficulties the negotiations have encountered have led some participants to contemplate settling for something less than a true development round. That must not be allowed to happen," he said, referring to the Doha Round, which is meant to restructure world trade policy in favour of development in poorer countries, such as those in the region.

Annan said 1.6 billion people in developing countries live with no electricity at all and lack access to modern energy services, stating: "It's a formidable barrier to poverty reduction."

Annan usually dispatches a letter to the G-8 leaders ahead of their annual summit, which he usually attends.

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