Swiss delegation taking part in key world trade talks

A seven-strong Swiss delegation is calling for greater transparency and stronger support for impoverished countries at a key United Nations trade meeting underway in Bangkok.

This content was published on February 10, 2000 - 18:02

A seven-strong Swiss delegation is calling for greater transparency and stronger support for impoverished countries at a key United Nations trade meeting underway in Bangkok. The eight-day UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) brings together thousands of officials from 180 countries and organisations.

Traditionally a forum for the needs of developing countries, the meeting is also expected to see delegates discussing the collapse of last November's World Trade Organisation talks in Seattle. One of the Swiss delegates, Laurent Guye, has already insisted that the consequences of globalisation must be examined in Bangkok.

Switzerland is particularly keen to see more technological help being given to developing nations, who it believes should be at the centre of the latest talks. "We want to see the conference strengthening its specific remit rather than putting too many irons in the fire," said Guye.

But Switzerland's representatives at the talks are also aware of the difficulty involved in bringing both sides of the globalisation argument together.

Developing countries are expected to again call on the industrialised nations to allow greater imports of farming products. European countries, in particular, are strongly opposed to liberating agricultural markets.

UNCTAD meets every four years and focuses on promoting trade as a tool of development. It does not come up with binding agreements, but offers a chance for developing countries to press for a greater say in global trade arrangements.

With an annual payment of three million francs, Switzerland bears 1.5 per cent of UNCTAD's total costs. Another three million francs are donated each year to the conference's special projects, which include an information programme on the cancellation of Third World debt.

From staff and wire reports

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