By Lavinia Mahlangu
United Nations, April 25 (NNN-BUANEWS) United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned that the current round of international trade talks must succeed, or the world's poorest countries will slip further behind.
Addressing the Seventh Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade in Doha, Qatar, on Monday, Ban said the entire multilateral trading system would be in jeopardy should the new round of talks fail.
Named after the city where they were launched in 2001, the Doha Round of trade talks stalled last year amid disputes between developed and developing countries over agricultural subsidies, but talks have resumed recently.
Ban warned that if the latest talks fail, "serious damage will be done to those who can least afford it, to the multilateral trading system, and to multilateralism itself.
"Should this round of trade talks succeed, Doha will become synonymous not only with free trade, but also indelibly linked to development."
The Secretary General urged UN member states to re-double their efforts to reach agreement regarding sensitive issues in the realm of international trade, such as agricultural subsidies which benefit farmers in developed nations and effectively price-out farmers in emerging economies.
"The global trading regime needs to create opportunities for the poorest countries, instead of leaving them at a disadvantage," said Ban, who urged countries to work towards "truly free trade," transparent governance and institutions based on the will of the people, and sustainable development and globalization that benefits everyone, and not just some of the world's peoples.
While in Qatar, the UN chief has also met with the country's Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and its Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamad ibn Jassem bin Jabr Al-Thani, as well as Finland's President Tarja Halonen, who opened the forum.
His last stop on the trip, which began in Italy, will be Damascus, Syria, where meetings with senior government officials, including President Bashar Assad, are expected.
On Saturday in Geneva, Ban concluded the latest two-day meeting of the Chief Executives Board (CEB), which brings together top officials from across the UN system.
The CEB agreed to restructure arrangements for co-operation among UN entities to ensure a more transparent, cost-effective and coherent approach to developing common programmes.
They also agreed to support the "aid-for-trade" initiative, which is designed to help poorer nations to take a greater role in the international trading system.