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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 May, 2004, 19:13 GMT 20:13 UK
Trade 'not easing' poor's plight
By Imogen Foulkes
BBC correspondent in Switzerland

Hungry African child
Poverty and hunger remain widespread, the report says
The world's least developed nations are not benefiting as they should from globalisation, a UN report says.

Although poorer nations were showing encouraging signs of growth, their populations were not seeing the advantages of it, the report says.

It says poverty remains a mass phenomenon, and international trade - which should contribute to poverty reduction - has not really done so.

The report was issued by the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

Economic benefits

Many of the world's 50 least developed nations are showing signs of an economic upturn, the report issued in Geneva says: gross domestic product is growing, and so too are exports.

The problem is these countries - among them, Angola, Sudan, Cambodia and Yemen - are not reaping the economic benefits.

Their populations continue to live in poverty and, the report says, global trade liberalisation has not been inclusive enough to really improve things.

The report cites a number of reasons: the continued dependence of poor countries on foreign financing and foreign debt; price fluctuations where their own export products also play a role as do high population growth, conflict and the Aids epidemic.

The UN says the link between trade liberalisation and poverty reduction is neither simple nor automatic.

The whole process needs to be clarified and national and international trade policies co-ordinated so that trade can truly become an instrument for relieving poverty.

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