Nepal has asked to place trade at the centre of development discourse in defining the post 2015 development agenda.
Addressing a meeting of the Trade Ministers of the Consultative Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the World Trade Organisation today in Bali, commerce and supplies minister Shanker Prasad Koirala, underlined the role of trade to reduce poverty and accelerate the pace of economic growth for sustainable development.
Koirala, chairing the preparatory meeting for the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference that officially begins tomorrow, also expressed that the continued deadlock in multilateral trade negotiations has created doubts whether multilateral track still remains a viable option for trade negotiations. "Proliferation of free trade agreements of varied scope and speed tend to suggest a different pathway to achieve trade outcomes," he said, pointing out that multilateral track alone offers LDCs opportunity to come together and pursue collective agenda as these countries otherwise have limited share, role and voice in global trade.
Multilateral approach is best suited to advancing LDCs' call for an equitable global trading system that responds to their development needs and priorities, Koirala added. "And success of multilateral trading system will have to be judged against its contribution in enabling LDCs to secure equitable trade benefits."
Referring to the LDC specific outcomes negotiated for adoption by the ministers, namely implementation of duty-free-quota-free market access, simplification of Rules of Origin, operationalisation of Services waiver for LDCs and cotton, he said that the outcomes will contribute to the effort of mainstreaming LDCs into multilateral trading system and provide basis for further works.
Amidst apprehension that yet another Ministerial Conference may end in deadlock, Koirala also stressed that Bali conference must deliver a credible and balanced outcome which only can restore the credibility of multilateral trading system.
Addressing on the occasion, the director-general of the WTO, Roberto Azevedo, stressed that works in WTO stand at critical juncture and failure in delivery in Bali will paralyse the negotiating arm of the organisation and its relevance will be questioned.
He also appreciated LDC Group's constructive engagements during the negotiations of the proposed Bali package.
The meeting was attended by ministers and other high level officials of 34 LDC members of WTO and nine observers.
The meeting adopted a Ministerial Declaration.Held generally in every two years, Ministerial Conference is the highest decision making body of the WTO.