20 December 2005

Secretary-General Relieved at Result of Hong Kong Trade Talks

NEW YORK, 19 December (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement is attributable to the Spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General is relieved that the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Hong Kong did not end in failure, as had been widely predicted.

He recognizes the effort made by the negotiators, and especially by the WTO Director-General, Pascal Lamy, to keep the Doha Round on track, and congratulates those who negotiated on behalf of the developing countries, particularly the least developed, on their success in working together and securing limited gains.  These gains, if fully implemented, should bring improved opportunities for some of the world's poorest people to trade their way out of poverty.

But the Secretary-General also notes that the ambitions set out four years ago in Doha have not been realized, and that a real effort of political will is required from all parties in 2006 if these negotiations are to deserve the name of Development Round.  He recalls that trade is no less important than aid for successful development, and that without open markets and fair competition, few countries will have a real chance of meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

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