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Sunday, 22 July, 2001, 08:15 GMT 09:15 UK
Poor nations warn WTO
Dhow on Zanzibari beach
Will Zanzibari fishermen gain from globalisation?
By the BBC's David Loyn in Zanzibar

Delegates from the world's 49 poorest countries are beginning a summit meeting in Zanzibar on Sunday to try to halt further liberalisation in the World Trade Organisation.

They are concerned that they are being forced to open up their markets while they are not strong enough yet to trade with the West.

This conference has more potential to derail globalisation than anything happening on the streets of Genoa.

A cocoa bean
Cocoa is one Africa's most important exports but some say middlemen take the profits
The least developed countries have come together at the invitation of Tanzania. Trade Minister, Iddi Simba is trying to get agreement on a declaration blocking any further trade liberalisation.

After talks stalled in Seattle two years ago, the WTO is meeting again in November.

But the least developed countries are angry that their agriculture, which they depend on, is being opened up to competition while the agriculture of Europe and North America continues to receive subsidies.

Promises

They may not have much money but they do have votes and Mr Simba told me that they will block another trade round in the WTO unless earlier promises made to them are kept.

The least developed countries are defined by the UN as countries with an average income of less than $900 a year.

Haiti is the only country in this category in the western hemisphere. There are also a number of Pacific islands represented but apart from Bangladesh, the poorest countries with the largest populations are all in Africa.

See also:

22 Jul 01 | Africa
Africa presents its big idea
19 Jul 01 | Business
G8 leaders woo world's poor
18 Jul 01 | Business
World inequality
26 Jun 01 | Business
WTO promises trade talk progress
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