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The BBC's Andrew Walker
"We expect different policies"
 real 28k

Sunday, 13 February, 2000, 16:44 GMT
US rejects trade reform plans

Demonstrators protested against globalisation Demonstrators protest against globalisation

The United States and the European Union have rejected plans to give Unctad, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, a greater role in world trade talks.

"An operational role for Unctad in trade negotiations would involve a confusion of institutional roles and a diversion of limited resources to activities for which Unctad is not the best-suited organisation," said Harriet Babbitt, deputy administrator at the US Agency for International Development.

Unctad, which speaks for developing countries, has been pushing for a bigger role in world trade since the collapse of talks in Seattle in December.

Many developing countries believe they have not got a fair deal from the world trading system. They were particularly upset in Seattle at US suggestions that access to Western markets should be linked to progress on labour and environmental standards.

But the US was unrepentant.

In a portion of Ms Babbitt's speech that was published but not delivered to delegates, she said that development "requires good governance, accountability and transparency, protection of human rights and the rule of law and sustainable environmental practices."

IMF chief calls for reform

Earlier, the retiring head of the IMF called for a greater role for poor countries in managing the international economy, with an economic summit between rich and poor countries every two years.

Michel Camdessus, who stands down as head of the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday, said the world must find a means to bridge the "potentially explosive gap" between rich and poor.

No doubt we will have to be more imaginative if we want humanity to become aware of and assume responsibility for the global aspect of its destiny
Michel Camdessus, IMF chief
Shortly before he made his speech, Mr Camdessus was hit in the face by a pie carried by a demonstrator, who was protesting at IMF polices.

"This suggestion is modest. No doubt we will have to be more imaginative if we want humanity to become aware of and assume responsibility for the global aspect of its destiny," he said.

Mr Camdessus also defended the role of the IMF in resolving the Asian crisis.

He said that the organisation was right to push for further globalisation of the world economy, despite the problems in 1998 and 1999 that led to investors fleeing from developing countries.

"Globalisation can now be seen in a positive the best means of improving the human condition throughout the world," he said.

He argued that foreign investment could help close the gap between the living standards between rich and poor, and that information technology was giving poor countries access to knowledge that was once only available to the rich.

Controversy over his successor

It is still unclear who will replace Mr Camdessus when he steps down from his thirteen years at the IMF.

The German government has been pushing for the appointment of its deputy finance minister, is Caio Koch-Weser, but he has generated little excitement among other industrial countries.

Stanley Fisher, the deputy IMF director, is likely to take the reins of the world's most important international economic organisation for the time being.

By tradition, a European heads the IMF, while an American heads the World Bank.

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See also:
13 Feb 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Flan-flingers hit IMF leader
12 Feb 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Asian leaders condemn multinationals
11 Feb 00 |  Business
World trade focus shifts to UN
04 Dec 99 |  Business
World trade talks collapse

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