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The BBC's Andrew Walker reports
"It was a striking contrast to the start of the WTO meeting in Seattle"
 real 28k

Saturday, 12 February, 2000, 13:23 GMT
Annan calls for global deal

Thai police Thai police have promised to stop protesters approaching the conference venue

United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has told an international trade conference that rich countries must do more to help poor ones.

The conference, in the Thai capital Bangkok, opened against a background of noisy but peaceful protests.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) was the first major global trade summit since violence erupted at economic talks in Seattle last year.

Fears of similar violence and disruption in Bangkok did not materialise, but hundreds of demonstrators did mass in central Bangkok to protest on international and local issues.

'A global new deal'

Opening the talks, Kofi Annan called for a "global new deal" in which the rich nations extended a helping hand to poor countries.

Can we not attempt on a global level what any successful industrialised country does to help its most disadvantaged or underdeveloped regions to catch up?
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Mr Annan said that globalisation was not the enemy of development, but he said that those who do best from it had an obligation to look after the casualties.

"How and why is it that such large parts of the world are excluded from benefits of globalisation? In part, it is indeed because development is held back by the barriers which industrialised countries still place in the way of exports from developing countries," Mr Annan said.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan Kofi Anna delivering his opening address
The conference will end in a week's time with a declaration on how to enable the poor countries to get the benefits of the increasingly integrated world economy.

In a report from Bangkok, BBC Economics correspondent Andrew Walker says the gathering is unlikely to produce all the promises from the rich countries to open their markets that the developing world really wants.

Peaceful protests

Hundreds of demonstrators had massed in central Bangkok in preparation for marches on the conference venue.

Thai protester International and local protesters have gathered in Bangkok
But they were prevented from reaching the conference centre by riot police.

One of the protesters, Boomee Sponog, a farmer who lost his land in a dam construction project, said: "I hope there is no violence, but we want everybody to know that the government has done nothing for us."

Thai authorities had launched a huge security operation ahead of the summit and said that large-scale protests would not be allowed to approach the venue, which was guarded by armed police and surrounded by police vehicles.

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See also:
11 Feb 00 |  Business
World trade focus shifts to UN
25 Dec 99 |  Business
Body blow for free trade

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