Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Business
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Market Data 
Your Money 
Business Basics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Economics correspondent Andrew Walker
"Representatives of developing countries say the plan is a worthwhile start"
 real 28k

Saturday, 19 February, 2000, 12:18 GMT
Talks end with plea for the poor

protest Protesters say the talks have achieved little

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Bangkok has drawn to a close.

Delegations from 190 member countries adopted a declaration and a plan of action intended to help the developing countries benefit from globalisation.

Over the last week, a succession of speakers from poorer nations have warned that their countries have been bypassed by the increasingly integrated world economy.

For the international community, just as for each and every national society, the ultimate test lies in the way it treats the weaker members of the community
UNCTAD declaration
The Bangkok declaration, one of the two texts agreed, said that globalisation also presented opportunities, had increased prosperity and offered potential for countries to benefit.

But, the declaration said, there were risks and challenges and that globalisation could marginalise countries and the most vulnerable groups.

"For the international community, just as for each and every national society, the ultimate test lies in the way it treats the weaker members of the community," it said.

The accompanying plan of action was intended to make globalisation an effective instrument for the development of all countries and all people.

Many of the key points in the plan are in effect calls for action in other institutions, notably the World Trade Organisation.

The plan noted, for example, that payments to farmers in some countries - a reference primarily to the European Union's subsidies - can have distorting effects on developing countries.

Those poorer nations also face barriers to exporting their goods to the developed world and have difficulty implementing existing WTO agreements.

Some of these issues contributed to the failure of the WTO's meeting in Seattle last year, which was riven by conflicts between rich and poor countries over free trade.

The organisers of the Bangkok conference said the past week has helped to restore a more amicable atmosphere.

'Healing process'

UNCTAD's Secretary General Rubens Ricupero said the talks had brought rich and poor nations closer together.

Rubens Ricupero: Praised the "Bangkok spirit"
"This was a healing process after the events in Seattle," he said.

Mr Ricupero, a former Brazilian finance minister, also said a "Bangkok spirit" had emerged from the past week's exchanges.

He spoke of a convergence of view, about the case for freer trade, the promotion of the private sector and the control of inflation.

But equally, he argued, there had been a convergence towards the idea that capitalism had key unsolved problems

UNCTAD under fire

The declaration and action plan do not break the Seattle deadlock and the underlying issues remain as contentious as ever.

Demonstrators claim the conference has done little to address the real concerns of the world's poorer nations.

Thai activist Veerapol Sopha from the Forum of the Poor group said: "UNCTAD has only created legitimacy for powerful countries and trans-national corporations to take advantage of the people."

Martin Khor of the Malaysia-based Third World Network said delegates had failed to tackle the real causes of poverty.

"They have treated the issue like a football, kicking it around between themselves but never going for goal," he said.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console

See also:
17 Feb 00 |  Business
West blocks Unctad deal
15 Feb 00 |  South Asia
ILO warns against 'casino economy'
11 Feb 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Anti-global protests in Bangkok
13 Feb 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Flan-flingers hit IMF leader
12 Feb 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Protests as trade talks open

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other Business stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Business stories