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Friday, 18 February, 2000, 09:56 GMT
Africa being 'wiped off map'

demo Demonstrators have gathered at the talks

The Algerian President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, says the African continent is being rubbed off the map by the trade policies of richer nations.

Mr Bouteflika told a meeting of the United Nations conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Bangkok that developing countries' hopes of benefiting from the world economy had been dashed.

A new map of the world is being drawn up and an entire continent - Africa - is purely and simply being rubbed out
President Bouteflika
The meeting is discussing the effects of globalisation on the poorer countries.

As Mr Bouteflika made the speech, officials warned that approval of a UN action plan intended to assist developing nations appeared to be blocked by long-standing rows over farm trade and corruption.

They said hopes were dwindling that the 52-page document, which details UNCTAD's agenda over the next four years, could be completed, as hoped, by the end of Friday.

"There are differences between the big powers on agriculture, and between North and South on governance and how we should handle corruption in our countries," an Asian developing country negotiator was quoted as saying.

Security was high at the conference after anti-globalisation demonstrators threatened to march on the conference venue.

Mr Bouteflika, seen as a possible target for assassination attempts due to the bloody civil war raging in Algeria between Islamic militants and government forces, was surrounded by a team of 10 Algerian bodyguards as he arrived to deliver his keynote speech.

'New world map'

Mr Bouteflika, currently president of the Organisation of African Unity, accused rich countries of using covert methods to evade their responsibility to open their markets to imports from abroad.

Mr Bouteflika Mr Bouteflika was surrounded by guards
"Ultimately, a new map of the world is being drawn up and an entire continent - Africa - is purely and simply being rubbed out," he said.

He said the power of market forces had down-graded the basic requirements of human development and aggravated inequalities in the developing nations.

Those countries, he added, who represent the overwhelming majority of humankind, had been largely excluded from consultation and collective decision making.

Possible compromise

The conference has heard a succession of delegates saying that globalisation - the increasing integration of the world economy - has failed to benefit the developing countries and marginalised many poor people.

President Bouteflika's speech continued this theme, but he also said that it was possible for globalisation to be reconciled with human objectives and to open up prospects of social progress.

Poor nations have been clamouring for a greater share of global trade benefits at the UN conference - the first major global meeting on trade since the World Trade Organisation's failure to launch a new round of negotiations in Seattle last year.
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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
16 Feb 00 |  Africa
Business boom time for Africa
13 Feb 00 |  Business
IMF calls for world economic summit
13 Feb 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Flan-flingers hit IMF leader
12 Feb 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Protests as trade talks open
21 Oct 97 |  Middle East
Algeria: Country profile

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