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Last Updated: Monday, 8 September, 2003, 15:10 GMT 16:10 UK
Vital that Cancun talks succeed
By Mike O'Brien MP
UK Minister of State for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs

Mike O'Brien
Mr O'Brien says trade is vital to all
The UK's trade minister explains why the Cancun trade talks matter for the world's poor - and UK citizens as well.

The world will be watching its political leaders when they meet this week in Cancun.

Developing countries and their supporters want to know if the promises made two years ago at the WTO meeting in Doha to tackle the imbalances in the global trading system will be met.

Trade matters. Britain's prosperity is based on it.

That is why we are the fourth largest economy in the world and the second largest recipient of foreign direct investment.

One in four jobs in Britain depends on international trade.

Agreement on the Doha Development Round to expand the opportunities for trade will benefit Britain and help developing countries trade their way out of poverty.

Key issues at the trade talks

Doha set an ambitious development agenda but progress has been slow.

This mid-round ministerial in Cancun must inject renewed momentum into the process.

Helping poor countries

Reducing barriers to international trade and strengthening trading links could lead to growth of up to 150 billion and lift many in developing countries out of dire poverty.

Tackling global poverty will also strengthen security and the international political community. The recent agreement on improving access to affordable medicines for the world's poorest nations is an important step in the right direction.

It has the potential to reduce suffering and death from diseases such as HIV/Aids, TB and Malaria.

This agreement must inspire further effort on the whole range of issues on the table at Cancun.

Agriculture vital

One of our top priorities for Cancun is to provide a framework for agricultural liberalisation.

These negotiations could reduce the effect that agricultural subsidies and tariffs have on poorer farming communities and enable developing countries to export their agricultural products to more markets.

This Government is determined that the decisions taken at Cancun and throughout the Doha negotiations will be in the interest of developing countries.

It is vital that decisions taken in Cancun increase the potential for developing countries to trade themselves out of poverty and to help create a fair and free global trading system.

This way we stay true to the aims and aspirations of the Doha Development agenda.


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