International trade - conference demands action

September 17, 2008 9:30 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats have passed an emergency motion in response to the collapse of world trade negotiations.The motion, which was supported by the party's Shadow Secretary for Business, Sarah Teather MP, calls for a fundamental reappraisal of the role of the World Trade Organisation. The party is proposing a number of actions to make world trade rules more friendly to the twin goals of development and the environment. These include a call for developed countries to proceed with the reductions in agricultural subsidies they had offered during the Doha trade negotiations, and for much greater investment in 'aid for trade' assistance to the poorest developing countries, helping them to open up their economies to international trade without suffering excessive disruption. Full text of the motion as passed (unamended)

Proposed by Streatham local party

Mover: Duncan Brack Summation: Sarah Teather MP (Shadow Secretary of State for BERR) Conference notes the collapse of talks amongst trade ministers on 29 July, which seem likely to mark the end of attempts to reach a conclusion to the WTO Doha Round of trade negotiations. Conference further notes that the failure to reach agreement was largely due to the inflexibility of developed countries, in particular the US, in negotiating over safeguards mechanisms for developing countries. While regretting the failure of the Doha Round to reach a successful conclusion, conference also recognises that the international trading system overseen by the WTO is insufficiently sensitive both to the needs of developing countries (particularly the poorest) and to the urgent need to integrate environmental costs and benefits into economic decisions. Conference therefore calls for a fundamental reappraisal of the role of the WTO and its trade agreements in promoting environmentally sustainable development, including, if necessary, the launch of a new and more development- and environment-friendly set of negotiations. Conference further calls for specific actions to promote environmentally sustainable development, including: 1. Developed countries to proceed with the reductions in agricultural subsidies they had offered during the negotiations. 2. Much greater investment in 'aid for trade' assistance to the poorest developing countries, helping them to open up their economies to international trade without suffering excessive disruption. 3. The establishment of an International Leapfrog Fund to facilitate the development of lowcarbon technologies, energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in developing countries, and of a new UN Adaptation Fund, helping poor countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.

4. Urgent action to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals by the target date of 2015.