Mandelson calls for African countries to raise their voice in Doha talks

Original Publication Date: 
8 February, 2006

Speaking today in Port Louis, Mauritius to an audience of African Trade Ministers, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has called on ACP and G90 developing countries to play a key role in the ongoing DDA trade negotiations.

Mandelson urged the G90 to define their own interests in the Doha Round and assert the importance of recognising the differing interests of different developing countries and not be "swept along by others with different economic interests."

"The different interests of developing countries have to be recognised in the DDA. Hong Kong brought out these divergences...Between the rapidly emerging economies without tariff preferences and the G-90 with them; between those who want aggressive liberalisation - in agriculture, at least - and those, like Mauritius and similar developing countries, who need a greater comfort zone to adjust gradually to global trade, increased competition and reduced preferences....Recognising these differences is not an attempt to "divide and rule"...differentiation between developing countries is a moral imperative that will help development, not impede it. So let us do away with the politically correct fallacy that developing countries are all alike and have the same interests. The G20 and the G90 do not have identical interests and capacities in trade...But that also requires on your part a willingness to assert your own demands, rather than be swept along by others with different economic interests."

Mandelson argued that boosting African trade meant new market access with developing countries. He urged ACP countries to pressure larger developing countries:

"South-South trade is already 40% of developing countries' exports. But barriers are still high. 70% of duties paid today by developing countries are paid to other developing countries, chiefly on industrial not agricultural goods because industrial goods are where the bulk of their trade takes place. Small countries like Mauritius and most of sub Saharan Africa can profit handsomely from selling more to big countries like Brazil, India or South Africa. That is why we need to encourage the G20 countries to open their markets more. In Europe, which is already the receiving market of 75% of LDC agricultural products, we are ready to open our market even more. And we are putting pressure on the US, and others in the developed world, to do the same. But we are also putting friendly but firm pressure on big developing countries to open their markets to agriculture, industrial goods and services. Help us to do that, in a reasonable and proportionate way."

Calling for a balanced negotiation that made progress in all areas, Mandelson urged ACP states to "tap into the benefits" of wider services trade:

"I am nonetheless convinced that it is in some G90 countries' interest to tap into the developmental benefits of services trade and I am glad that Mauritius has participated actively in these negotiations. Encouraging inward investment in sectors like transport, telecommunications and financial services - the hard wiring of any economy - is the foundation for sustainable growth. Developing countries need a strong service base to their economy and this should be reflected in the submission of revised offers."

Mandelson urged the ACP states to "keep Europe to its pledge" on big increases in Aid for Trade funding - citing the commitment by EU Member States to raise spending on Aid for Trade to more than 2 billion euros a year in 2010. Mandelson also urged ACP countries to back Trade Facilitation negotiations in the DDA, arguing that new international rules on customs standards and procedures could produce some of the Round's most significant gains for developing countries.

For a full version of the speech please go to