For Immediate Release – 17 December 2005
Oxfam response to draft WTO Ministerial text
International agency Oxfam today rejected a new draft text at the WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong as unacceptable and not
sufficient to deliver a pro-development outcome.
Developing countries have defended themselves against an onslaught of damaging proposals by the EU and US, and have
succeeded in clawing back some ground, but much remains to be done to ensure a trade deal that reduces poverty, said
“The bottom line is this is not an acceptable text, and if the meeting ends without changes it will have failed the
poor. Developing countries at this meeting have demonstrated unity and determination in the face of enormous pressure.
As a result, some of the most negative proposals have been rebuffed but the draft text still falls far short of what
they were promised and would do more harm than good if adopted,” said Phil Bloomer, Head of Oxfam International’s Make
Trade Fair campaign.
“In some areas small progress has been made, in others worse proposals have been prevented, but unless the text changes
fundamentally in the next 24 hours there will be very little worth celebrating,” he added.
On agriculture, minimal progress has been made, including a commitment to revise the criteria for allowable subsidies,
but the bulk of the work still remains to be done and key numbers still need to be inserted. A promise to end export
subsidies by 2010 or 2013 is conditional on the US agreeing to eliminate equivalent payments, which Oxfam says they
The text is disappointing on cotton, an issue of vital importance to many developing countries and a symbol for many of
the inequities of world trade. The importance of cotton is reiterated, as is a commitment to treat it separately from
the other parts of agriculture, which is welcome. However, there are still no concrete figures or dates for elimination
of US cotton subsidies and dumping, which undermines the livelihoods of millions of farmers in Africa.
The texts on industrial market access and services are still unacceptable and would not lead to pro- development
outcomes, although poor countries have clawed back ground from even worse proposals made earlier at the meeting.
Promises from rich countries to provide duty and quota free access to the poorest countries come with potentially huge
loopholes that could cause delay and enable the exclusion of many key products, including textiles.
Bloomer: “Negotiators must get back to the table and fight for a deal that ensures development. At a minimum we need
agreed tomorrow an end date for export subsidies of no later than 2010, real and immediate duty and quota free access
for the poorest countries, with no exceptions, and a promise from the US to end cotton subsidies and dumping.”