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Thursday, 1 June 2006 - Brussels
Trade and poverty

European Parliament resolution on trade and poverty: designing trade policies to maximise trade's contribution to poverty relief (2006/2031(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its resolutions of 25 October 2001 on openness and democracy in international trade(1), of 13 December 2001 on the WTO meeting in Qatar(2), of 3 September 2002 on trade and development for poverty eradication(3), of 30 January 2003 on world hunger and the elimination of barriers to trade with the poorest countries(4), of 12 February 2003 on the WTO agricultural trade negotiations(5), of 15 May 2003 on capacity-building in the developing countries(6), of 3 July 2003 on preparations for the 5th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference (Cancún, Mexico, 10-14 September 2003)(7), of 4 September 2003 on the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on Trade and Development - Assisting developing countries to benefit from trade(8), of 25 September 2003 on the Fifth WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancún(9), of 24 February 2005 on action against hunger and poverty(10), of 12 May 2005 on the assessment of the Doha Round following the WTO General Council Decision of 1 August 2004(11), of 6 July 2005 on the Global Call to Action: Making Poverty History(12), of 1 December 2005 on the preparations for the Sixth Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Hong Kong(13),

–   having regard to its position of 9 March 2005 on the proposal for a Council regulation applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences(14) and of 1 December 2005 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on compulsory licensing of patents relating to the manufacture of pharmaceutical products for export to countries with public health problems(15),

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 980/2005 of 27 June 2005 applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences(16),

–   having regard to the Commission communication, "Speeding up progress towards the Millennium Development Goals - The European Union's contribution" (COM(2005)0132), "Accelerating progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals - Financing for Development and Aid Effectiveness" (COM(2005)0133), and "Policy Coherence for Development - Accelerating progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals (COM(2005)0134),

–   having regard to the final declarations of the parliamentary conference on the WTO of 12 and 15 December 2005 and of 24-26 November 2004,

–   having regard to the Ministerial Declaration of the Sixth Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference, adopted on 18 December 2005 in Hong Kong,

–   having regard to the decision adopted by the WTO General Council on 1 August 2004,

–   having regard to the Ministerial Declaration of the Fourth Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference, adopted on 14 November 2001 in Doha,

–   having regard to the Sutherland Report on the future of the WTO,

–   having regard to the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 8 September 2000, which sets out the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as criteria collectively established by the international community for the elimination of poverty,

–   having regard to the "The Millennium Development Goals - Report 2005" of the United Nations (UN),

–   having regard to the UN 2005 World Summit Outcome,

–   having regard to the report by the UN Millennium Project Task Force headed by Professor Jeffrey Sachs entitled "Investing in Development: a practical plan to achieve the Millennium Development Goals",

–   having regard to UN General Assembly Resolutions A/RES/46/121, A/RES/47/134, A/RES/49/179, A/RES/47/196 and A/RES/50/107,

–   having regard to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, and the Optional Protocol thereto,

–   having regard to the communiqué, released on 8 July 2005 by the Group of Eight (G8) in Gleneagles,

–   having regard to the Report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) - Least Developed Countries 2002: Escaping the Poverty Trap,

–   having regard to the Economic Report on Africa 2004 entitled, "Unlocking Africa's Trade Potential" by the UN Economic Commission for Africa,

–   having regard to the "Quintet against Hunger" formed at the World Summit for Action Against Hunger, which led to the Global Call for Action against Poverty launched by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil at the World Social Forum in January 2005,

–   having regard to the New York Declaration on Action against Hunger and Poverty of 20 September 2004, signed by 111 national governments, including all the EU Member States,

–   having regard to the World Food Summit's pledge in 1996 to reduce the number of hungry people by half by the year 2015,

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinions of the Committee on Development and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A6-0179/2006),

A.   whereas combating poverty constitutes an absolute priority,

B.   whereas the link between trade on one hand and development and the eradication of poverty on the other is extremely complex and depends on particular circumstances which very often have to do with many factors, such as the size of the domestic market, natural resources, distances and physical conditions, and, in particular, on whether or not domestic policies interact well with external trade,

C.   whereas trade is a tool for development and poverty eradication, but over one billion people across the globe, mainly concentrated in the least developed countries still struggle in extreme poverty on less than USD 1 a day and between 1.5 and 3 billion people live below the USD 2 a-day poverty line, although economic growth in China and India has delivered a dramatic reduction in the number of poor so that the proportion of people living in extreme poverty on less than USD 1 a day has dropped by almost half since 1981, from 40 to 21% of the global population,

D.   whereas poverty eradication requires democratic participation and changes in economic structures in order to ensure a more equitable distribution of wealth,

E.   whereas poverty has been defined as a human condition, characterised by the sustained or chronic deprivation of resources, capabilities, choices, security and power necessary for the enjoyment of an adequate standard of living and other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights,

F.   whereas gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in all developing countries rose by 30% during the last 25 years but the difference in per-capita income between the world's poorest and richest countries has more than doubled over the same period,

G.   whereas the high population growth rates in developing countries mean that the rates of economic growth that are being achieved are, in many cases, not sufficient to yield GDP per-capita growth rates that will make a major dent in poverty in a number of least developed countries (LDCs),

H.   whereas civil peace is a necessary condition for a good trade-poverty relationship; whereas good governance, including good management of the revenues from natural resources, is essential for civil peace; whereas an export specialisation in some products, notably in diamonds, oil, timber and narcotic crops, is associated with higher conflict risk; whereas 60% of LDCs have experienced, in the last 15 years, civil conflict of varying intensity and duration that, in most cases, erupted after a period of economic stagnation and regression, leaving long-term negative consequences for national and regional economic growth,

I.   whereas the poorest countries" share in world trade has fallen back over the last decade and their dependence on low-value-added products with substantial price fluctuations has increased,

J.   whereas there is a need for a fair multilateral trade system designed to eradicate poverty, provide full employment, strengthen democracy, and promote sustainable development; whereas this system must be based on properly targeted and balanced rules, which are vital to enable the poorest countries to participate more effectively in international trade, diversify their economies, and meet the challenges of globalisation, while ensuring that its benefits are fairly distributed,

K.   whereas so-called "developing" countries are a disparate group of States whose socio-economic situation, production structures, and export capacity differ substantially; whereas, when it comes to the ability of developing countries to win new markets at world level in a liberalised environment, the balance is therefore weighted in favour of the emerging powers, to the detriment of the more fragile countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa,

L.   whereas European trade policy towards third countries, which places the emphasis on a differentiated approach to trade under the trade preference system, enables the poorest countries to enjoy specific and advantageous export conditions (lower than normal customs duties, duty-free or reduced-rate export quotas, etc.),

M.   whereas according to a report of the World Bank, the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Development Programme, "World Resources 2005: the wealth of the poor: managing ecosystems to fight poverty", three-quarters of the poor in the world live in the rural areas and their environment is all they can depend on,

N.   whereas agriculture provides employment and livelihood for more than 60% of the labour force in LCDs, though it is at the same time the most distorted sector, and whereas market access for agricultural products is one of the key issues relating to poverty reduction,

O.   whereas access to natural resources such as water, land, and energy, to basic services such as medical, health, and education services, and to essential goods such as medicines, is difficult for the poor,

P.   whereas over the last 30 years, chronic famine and child labour have been halved in the developing countries, life expectancy has increased from 46 to 64 years and infant mortality has fallen from 18% to 8%; whereas, today, 70% of the population in developing countries have access to clean drinking water, as compared with 45% in 1980,

Q.   whereas the lives and livelihoods of most people in most LDCs are not directly linked to the international economy and there is a strong likelihood that export-led growth could lead to "enclave-led growth" in countries exporting manufactured goods, minerals and oil, which is particularly evident in agriculture-exporting LDCs where the benefits from trade in commodities and agricultural products decline for producers and grow for retailers; whereas economic growth requires not simply export expansion, but also an inclusive, economy-wide expansion of income-earning opportunities, notably the strengthening of the development links between agricultural and non-agricultural activities,

R.   whereas, in order to compete with world farm prices, the poorest countries on the planet are encouraged to concentrate on a limited number of products, intended solely for export; whereas the resulting development of monocultures is accompanied by the abandonment of the traditional food crops necessary to feed local populations and a growing dependence on imports of basic products and on uncontrollable fluctuations of world markets,

S.   whereas according to a study based on the data of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the UN, trade liberalisation has cost sub-Saharan Africa USD 272 billion over the past 20 years; whereas mass poverty reinforces the tendency towards economic stagnation and many countries in the region are undertaking very ambitious economic reforms in order to lift themselves out of such poverty; whereas the expertise and assistance of the international community is essential in this regard,

T.   whereas attaining the MDGs and combating global poverty will require a trade environment in which developing countries have real access to the markets of developed countries, more equitable trade practices, strong and enforced rules of protection on the environment and social rights, effective relief of unsustainable debt, and for all donors to increase not so much the amount, but the effectiveness of aid, linking it to programmes to reform economic and social structures and improve democratic governance,

U.   whereas increasing the volume of exports by poor countries is a necessary condition for their development, but not sufficient in itself; whereas, while an increase in exports helps to increase the amount of wealth produced, it does not automatically guarantee an improvement in the social conditions experienced by local populations working in the production sector,

V.   whereas external trade can be an important tool for social and economic development when countries are able to protect their markets at the first stage and to gradually open their markets at the next stage when they have a strong institutional framework and clear social and environmental rules; whereas LDCs in Africa have undertaken deeper and faster liberalisation than LDCs in Asia and whereas LDCs in Asia have generally performed better in terms of poverty reduction and have also been more successful in developing more market-dynamic manufacturing exports, partly through regional trade and investment links, and due to their strong institutional framework,

W.   whereas external trade is an important tool for social and economic development; whereas studies based on data from sources such as the IMF, the World Bank and the UN point to a direct link between a country's economic freedom and its prosperity,

X.   whereas liberalisation reduces or eliminates existing distortions and provides an incentive for increased investment, technology transfer and, through increased competition, economic efficiency; whereas eliminating trade barriers can be an important incentive for developing countries to shift their production in order to benefit from their comparative advantages of low labour costs and natural resources,

Y.   whereas external trade can be an opportunity for poverty reduction, on condition that trade policies are implemented carefully in parallel with complementary domestic and international policies,

Z.   whereas during the period 1999-2001, exports and imports of goods and services constituted, on average, 51% of the GDP of LDCs, which was a higher percentage than that of high-income OECD countries, which stood at 43% during the same period; whereas however, in order to be sustainable, the benefits of international trade must be accompanied by investment in physical, human, social and institutional capital and complemented by entrepreneurialism, innovation and technological progress, which depends on the sustained, efficient and effective delivery of international assistance and a reduction in debt service obligations,

AA.   whereas the inclusion of the developing countries and in particular LDCs in world trade constitutes one of the main goals of the Doha Development Agenda,

BB.   whereas the promotion of free and fair trade with environmental and social rules within the multilateral trading system, the fair integration of developing countries into the world trading system and a better-working WTO must be among the important objectives and responsibilities of EU trade policy, the EU being the world's largest trading block and the most important trading partner of developing countries,

CC.   whereas, according to recent reports issued by the Commission, almost 70% of world tariff and non-tariff barriers in terms of volume concern trade between developing countries,

DD.   whereas the developing countries agreed in Marrakech to initiate negotiations on services on condition that full flexibility would be granted with regard to the inclusion or exclusion of any service sector in or from the negotiations,

EE.   whereas the industrialised countries own 90% of all patents and whereas, in the case of pharmaceuticals, this is frequently linked to the difficulty in addressing public health problems,

FF.   whereas increased trade in services between developed and developing countries provides the opportunity for an important transfer of know-how, which may also improve access to basic services, communications and a functional banking and insurance sector,

GG.   whereas 70% of the 1.3 billion of people living in poverty are women; whereas, throughout the world, women are denied the necessary opportunities to improve their economic and social situation, such as that concerning property or inheritance rights and access to education or jobs, while at the same time women have the added responsibility of caring for children and the household,

HH.   whereas women in most countries do not have the same access as men to education, training, credit, technology and information, which are necessary to enable them to take advantage of the new economic opportunities arising from the expansion in international trade,

II.   whereas the impact on women of policies to expand trade depends upon women's position within their local, regional and national economy as well as their role in the social reproduction of family welfare and care services and whereas women's employment remains the key to economic independence and has a profound impact on the position of women in society as a whole,

JJ.   whereas in many developing countries women from the lowest social strata earn their living primarily from small-scale farming or by working in the textile and clothing industries producing goods for export,

KK.   whereas when women have more control over the use to which the family income is put, more is invested in their children's education and in health care and food, which helps reduce poverty,

LL.   whereas wealth creation is vital for social progress and the EU is the world's largest exporter and the second largest importer, and its influence within the WTO through its bilateral agreements shapes the contours of international trade policy and rules;

1.  Warns that the global costs of the failure of poverty eradication are enormous in terms of human suffering, instability, conflict, recurrent emergencies, international crime, the drugs trade, economic stagnation, clandestine migration and premature death;

2.  Considers that trade can help to create concrete opportunities for developing countries and, in particular, for LDCs, but that it can lead to the eradication of poverty and to the delivery of development only if accompanied by good-quality domestic policies;

3.  Recognises that the principle of freedom of movement for goods and services may be an effective way of helping poor countries to develop, on condition that their problems and interests are specifically taken into account;

4.  Calls on the Commission to consider as a priority in its international agenda the enforcement of trade rules and of the right to development, in particular environmental and social rules in order to contribute to the eradication of the root causes of poverty;

5.  Calls for a full impact assessment of current trade policies on the environment, on sensitive sectors such as forestry and fisheries, and on poverty in the developing countries and in the EU and for an impact assessment of the increased costs which the customs protection and trade barriers of current European trade policies cause for European consumers, and of the obstacles to development this involves for poor people in the developing countries of the world;

6.  Reiterates that fair trade can be one of the effective tools for poverty reduction; considers, however, that action against poverty requires above all the attainment of all eight UN MDGs should be regarded as the overriding task in the current negotiations on the world trade system and the Economic Partnership Agreements;

7.  Urges the developing countries to incorporate trade into their national development and poverty-reduction policies; considers, however, that trade-related measures should be designed so as not to undermine the internal development and poverty-reduction strategies adopted by developing countries;

8.  Draws attention to the International Labour Organization (ILO) communication of December 2005 highlighting the potential role of microfinance in the fight against poverty and debt slavery, and also as a tool that can help eliminate child labour by increasing family incomes; calls for research to be undertaken in order to gauge the effectiveness and true potential of microfinance;

9.  Is firmly convinced that trade, together with aid and debt relief, is vital for achieving the MDGs by 2015; points out, however, that public development aid will require considerable resources between now and 2015 if this shared ambition is to be realised; in this connection, calls for studies to be undertaken and new sustainable funding mechanisms to be introduced to make it possible to achieve these goals;

10.  Welcomes the announcement by the President of the Commission in October 2005 that he would take action in favour of the victims of globalisation within the EU with specific programmes; considers that those programmes should be accompanied by a reinforcement of the social and environmental rules in the EU and of the control of production goods imported into or services provided in the EU;

11.  Welcomes the agreement reached at the abovementioned G8 Summit on a comprehensive financial and economic plan to support the progress for Africa, where most extreme poverty is concentrated, and in particular the decision taken to cancel completely the remaining debts of heavily indebted poor countries to the IMF, the World Bank and the African Development Fund as a way of meeting the MDGs; emphasises that this initiative must be extended to those developing countries which have demonstrated practically that they are working towards reducing corruption, increasing transparency and utilising the resources released by the cancellation of debt on strategies for poverty reduction;

12.  Welcomes the willingness expressed by Commissioner Mandelson in his statement of 9 February 2006 in Mauritius to adopt a differentiated approach to poor countries based on their level of development and to maintain a tariff preferences system that takes account of these disparities;

13.  Welcomes the fact that trade relations between the European Union and the poor countries are asymmetrical, to the benefit of the latter; believes that relations of this kind should serve as a basis for regulating trade at global level; calls on the Commission to argue within the WTO for the introduction of several separate coefficients so as to calculate reductions in customs duties in accordance with the situation of the group of countries concerned;

14.  Calls on the Commission to support a consistent tariff policy that will make it possible to differentiate trade policy, so as to meet the expectations of the most fragile countries; with this in view, urges it that a reasonable level of general customs protection be maintained, so as to preserve the comparative advantages enjoyed by these countries under the generalised system of preferences (GSP), which enables them to have sufficient resources available to modernise their production structures;

15.  Recalls the EU commitment, under the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, to promote sustainable development and poverty eradication in the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP); and considers that the EU, as an important trade player in the multilateral institutions, could contribute to the reinforcement of the position of developing countries by shaping a more coherent and comprehensive policy, in accordance with Article 178 of the EC Treaty; stresses, however, the significant input of other international donors;

16.  Stresses the importance of debt relief by phasing out the debts of LDCs for those governments that respect human rights and the principle of good governance and give priority to poverty eradication and economic development;

17.  Calls on the EU take the lead in order to develop and help implement schemes to end the debt burden in order to meet the MDGs;

18.  Notes that, according to UNCTAD, in 2004 the 50 LDCs – comprising more than one-third of ACP countries - accounted for over 11% of the world's population (742 million), but only 0.6% of the world's GDP;

19.  Considers that it is crucial to take into account the right to development of the citizens of poor countries, and not merely the interests of those countries" regimes, and that poor countries must decide and lead their own development strategies and economic policies; considers that the right to industrialisation is a right of development and considers therefore that every country, and especially developing countries in which industrial development is at an early stage, has the right to regulate its industry in order to act against social or environmental dumping; considers, however, that this should not lead such countries unilaterally to breach their obligations deriving from international treaties and contracts;

20.  Takes note of recent studies by UNCTAD and other institutions that show that the extensive trade liberalisation in LDCs has not been sufficiently translated into sustained and substantial poverty reduction and has contributed to a decline in the terms of trade of developing countries, in particular of African countries; warns against the consequences of totally eliminating customs revenue for LDCs and stresses the right of these countries to determine themselves the speed at which they open their markets in all sectors;

21.  Considers that during the WTO 6th Ministerial Conference, some progress was made with regard to special products, special safeguard mechanism (SSM) and special and differential treatment (SDT), taking into account the concerns of developing countries about the impact of trade liberalisation and reciprocity, but emphasises that much still remains to be done; stresses that SDT must be fully reflected in the negotiations on modalities for tariff reductions in trade in agricultural and industrial goods, in order to allow poorer developing countries sufficient time to consolidate their industrialisation efforts;

22.  Calls on the governments of developing countries to formulate and implement national development strategies that integrate trade within them which effectively supports poverty reduction; notes that these efforts must be supported by international development partners, through financial and technical assistance, to build both public and private trade capacities;

23.  Calls on LDCs to promote a progressive economic transition in which sustained economic growth is increasingly founded upon domestic resource mobilisation, the attraction of foreign direct investment (FDI) and the tapping of financial markets, and to ensure that imports are increasingly paid for by exports rather than covered by aid flows; notes that this is most likely to be achieved if international assistance, debt relief, trade preferences and measures to facilitate FDI and technology transfer all work together to promote development and poverty reduction;

24.  Calls on the governments of developing countries, and agriculture-exporting LDCs in particular, to counter the increasing population pressure on land and environmental impoverishment, where farm sizes and yields are too low to support households, through the development of employment-intensive non-agricultural tradables and technological change in subsistence-oriented activities; notes that this could be combined with countering the problem of "enclave growth" through the development of trade-related infrastructure, such as internal transport and communications, increased domestic market integration and the development of new exports, including manufactured goods and tourism;

25.  Emphasises the need for the EU to engage further in initiatives concerning corporate social responsibility in order to arrive at a concept of binding and accountable rules for EU companies trading and producing in third countries in accordance with human rights and ILO standards;

26.  Invites the EU to include in particular the consequences of trade in waste in its Sustainability Impact Assessments of trade agreements in order to arrive at rules against harmful waste;

27.  Considers it necessary to develop trade relations among developing countries, to develop the "South-South" inter-regional dimension, to establish local markets and to increase the access of populations to goods and services, but particularly to secure access to essential services such as drinking water, health, energy, transport and education through public investment programmes in line with the MDGs;

28.  Considers that the lack of economic integration and the high tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade between developing countries act as a brake on all potential factors of development in these countries; considers that wider opening-up of trade among the countries of the South would produce benefits for the developing countries; notes, however, that LDCs may become marginalised in South-South trade and, therefore, encourages regional FDI, technology transfer and cheaper finance from more advanced developing countries directed at the LDCs, and triangular relationships with developed countries, as well as special provisions within regional agreements; points out the importance of creating regional markets; considers that more advanced countries should set a good example with the dismantling of trade barriers in order to promote trade between poor countries;

29.  Welcomes the implementation of the "Everything but Arms" initiative by the European Union, which enables LDCs to export all their output to the European market without customs duties or quotas; strongly urges all developed and advanced developing countries to follow this model; welcomes the agreement to this effect reached during the recent WTO negotiations in Hong Kong; regrets, however, that restrictions can still be maintained on products which are of major importance for the least-developed countries;

30.  Warns of the real risk that the "Everything but Arms" initiative could be fraudulently distorted by means of irregular forms of triangular trade which will dangerously disrupt the balance of markets and the profitability of prices, without any real gains for local populations working in the production sector in poor countries;

31.  Urges the Commission to support the opening-up of markets by introducing adequate measures to regulate trade so as to overcome these dangers; with this in view, suggests that the Everything but Arms initiative should be supplemented by a safeguard clause linking the maximum level of exports from the countries concerned to their actual production capacity; also urges the Commission to take rapid steps to secure a substantial improvement in the quality of control mechanisms for geographical indications and designations of origin;

32.  Calls on the Commission to work towards more transparency in international trade negotiations and to note the concerns of those developing countries that lack the capacity to handle numerous trade negotiations at the same time, and invites it to continue and increase its technical assistance to them, to allow them to improve their competence and efficiency in trade negotiations;

33.  Considers that appropriate multilaterally agreed trade policies are fundamental for poverty reduction and that the key policy choices for poverty reduction can be grouped around three major issues:

   - market access and rebalancing rules on domestic and export support;
   - recognition, "operalisation" and implementation of special and differential treatment (S&D) and flexibilities for developing;
   - mainstreaming the development dimension into a wider range of policies that are not "classical trade instruments";

34.  Stresses the importance of technical assistance and capacity-building programmes which enjoy sustainable funding, in particular to help developing countries formulate their trade interests and engage in trade negotiations; in this connection, welcomes the improved organisation and the growing confidence among developing countries, particularly LDCs;

35.  Stresses the importance of capacity-building for trade to enhance the ACPs" ability to identify needs and strategies, of negotiating and supporting regional integration and of assisting in this process, with a view in particular to diversification and to supporting regional integration and enhancing production and supply and trading capacity and by offsetting adjustment costs as well as increasing their ability to attract investment while protecting local fledgling industries;

36.  Welcomes the extension of the scope of the "aid-for-trade" programme, which has not been restricted to LDCs but has been extended to other developing countries; however, deplores the fact that this previously agreed aid has now been made conditional on additional trade concessions from aid recipients; stresses that this aid must be funded with new money and must not involve shifting resources already earmarked for other development initiatives, such as the MDGs;

37.  Urges the Commission to undertake a special programme to help Sub-Saharan countries in areas such as access to water, access to medicines, public services and agriculture and the transfer of know-how by different means including the increase of trade in services;

38.  Welcomes the Commission's new development strategy for Africa, which goes beyond traditional humanitarian aid and aims to bring about economic and social restructuring, and calls on the Commission and Member States to work closely together in its implementation;

39.  Stresses the importance of adequate technical assistance to help developing countries; also stresses the need to encourage weak and vulnerable economies in the integration of trade into their national development policies and poverty reduction strategies;

40.  Calls for a greater flexibility in the transition periods which developing countries are allowed when assuming commitments under regional agreements within the scope of GATT;

41.  Notes that agriculture continues to be the principal source of income and employment in most developing countries, especially for the poorest and therefore stresses the importance of the offer made by the EU to abolish its export subsidies by 2013; insists that a parallel move by other WTO members is required; calls on the EU to continue advocating the abandonment of other - sometimes disguised - forms of export support such as export credits, food aid, State enterprises, etc., in order to remedy the existing trade imbalances between the North and the South and to make the agriculture of poor countries more profitable;

42.  Welcomes the decision to abolish export subsidies in agriculture by 2013 and calls once again for the implementation of decisions already taken to be brought forward significantly; however, as these export subsidies account for only 3.5% of overall EU agricultural support, urges the Commission to continue discussions on finalising the modalities by which agricultural domestic subsidies and tariffs can be reduced in all industrialised countries;

43.  Stresses the importance of commodities such as sugar, bananas and cotton for developing countries; calls upon the EU to offer developing countries the necessary assistance to reform their sugar sectors; deplores the lack of an effective solution to the cotton problem in Hong Kong;

44.  Recalls that the maintenance of biodiversity is a key factor for the preservation of nature and for the fight against plant and animal diseases and that therefore a precautionary approach to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and the free use of traditional seeds and knowledge in farming by countries or regions is a legitimate choice;

45.  Calls on the Commission to ensure more coherence between its trade and cooperation policies to provide targeted assistance to build up trade capacity so as to ensure that export and import growth increase and remain balanced to avoid a renewed debt crisis in the future, and to help the governments of the developing countries

   to maintain and develop public services in order to remedy the great scourges linked to poverty, such as epidemics, illiteracy, drinking-water shortages, and the unavailability of sewage treatment;
   to foster the conditions necessary for wealth creation, such as access to energy and the development of infrastructures, particularly information and communication technologies;

46.  Considers that a distinction needs to be drawn between commercial services and public services; stresses the need for public services to remain outside GATS, particularly as regards those which help to provide access to vital public goods such as health, education, drinking water and energy, and those which play a prominent part in cultural identity, such as audiovisual services;

47.  Stresses the importance, also for developing countries, of enhancing market access for service providers, whilst safeguarding the ability of all WTO members to regulate their own service sectors in accordance with GATS, including the possibility of exempting basic sectors such as health, education and audio-visual services; regrets that no specific framework on services has been established within the WTO negotiations to date, especially in sectors which are of interest for the export possibilities of developing countries; calls for substantial progress in this field;

48.  Calls on the Commission to guarantee full flexibility in the area of services and to allow every country the freedom to include or exclude any services on or from the list of services to be liberalised;

49.  Calls on the Commission to implement a services-related trade policy that supports the movement of natural persons in developing countries and contributes to the availability of those types of services that can boost development and contribute to poverty reduction;

50.  Stresses the need to allow the poorest developing countries some latitude as to how far they reciprocate in opening up markets, so as to protect the most vulnerable countries by allowing them to decide for themselves how quickly liberalisation should proceed;

51.  Stresses the need for available and affordable medicines for developing countries, while at the same time taking into account the concerns of producers;

52.  Emphasises that poverty is largely a female phenomenon ("the feminisation of poverty") and stresses the need to review the gender impact of trade policies in order to design policies which stop and reverse marginalising effects such as land ownership concentration in male hands, male migration to urban areas and an increase in rural poverty, destruction of local markets, concentration of badly paid low-skill female jobs in export-processing zones, etc., by introducing incentives and positive-discrimination measures addressed to governments and companies with European ownership;

53.  Calls for a systematic analysis of the gender dimension of trade expansion that examines the various trends and takes into account the complexity of the issues and factors involved, such as women's access to economic and technical resources, their participation in the labour market, rates and patterns of discrimination and the gender divide in the labour market, women's access to education and their level of education and their access to health care and socio-cultural resources;

54.  Notes that women benefit less from the opportunities presented by liberalisation of trade and globalisation, while at the same time they are harder hit by the adverse effects of those phenomena, and urges the EU therefore, in its trade-related assistance programmes, to devote specific attention to increasing opportunities for women to participate in trade, with particular emphasis on international trade;

55.  Notes that, in bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations which the Commission conducts on behalf of the Member States, little or no effort is made to assess the gender-related impact of future trade agreements, and calls on the Commission, as a matter of routine, to make a gender analysis of the impact of European proposals in trade negotiations at macro and micro level;

56.  Calls on international economic institutions and the Commission to devise measures and programmes to promote the role of women in developing countries" economic life, particularly by encouraging a spirit of enterprise through education and by providing financial assistance, including micro credits;

57.  Considers that social development is a cornerstone of trade policy and calls on the relevant international organisations and on governments to eliminate all forms of discrimination, including gender disparities and barriers and pay discrimination, to recognise a right to paid maternity leave and to establish a minimum wage; calls for the inclusion of organisations representing women workers in the consultation process;

58.  Appeals to the sense of social responsibility of those involved in international trade, and calls on the competent institutions to take specific measures in order to guarantee persons living in deprived environments fair access to public health systems, decent housing, water, justice, education, training, lifelong learning, sports and culture, so as to guard against them leaving school prematurely and enable them to move smoothly from school into the labour market;

59.  Considers that trade agreements must comply with the existing international agreements on human rights and women's rights, ecological sustainability, and the right to development and the eradication of poverty;

60.  Points out that an international trade system which serves the needs of development and poverty reduction will also contribute to social progress and decent employment; that trade rules should not impinge on the social standards established by the ILO; that the fight against all forms of labour exploitation (prohibition of forced labour and child labour, in particular), together with respect for trade union freedoms, is vital to the organisation of a fair trade system that serves the interests of everyone; reiterates the need to study the interaction between trade and social questions;

61.  Calls on the Commission to start taking into account non-commercial criteria in future negotiations on any further opening-up of the markets, so that trade expansion does not take place at the expense of the working conditions of local populations; at the same time calls on the members of the ILO to agree on common rules for the developing countries, with the precise nature of these rules and the timetable for their implementation to be determined in cooperation with the developing countries;

62.  Stresses the need for the WTO to respect ILO decisions in this area; suggests that, in this connection, when the ILO decides on sanctions, the States should be able to use trade instruments such as the triggering of safeguard clauses, temporary reassessment of customs tariffs or the introduction of anti-dumping measures;

63.  Stresses that poverty reduction and the promotion of sustainable development must be one of the central focuses of the EPA negotiations;

64.  Stresses the importance of maintaining and strengthening the multilateral trade frameworks; recalls that within the WTO, as a forum for shaping a fair rules-based system for international trade, special emphasis should be placed on increasing the developing countries" negotiating capacities in order to enable them to better represent their trade interests and integrate them into the global economy;

65.  Reiterates its call for a wide-ranging urgent reform of the WTO resulting in greater democratic accountability, transparency and higher credibility so as to integrate it more effectively within the general framework of world governance; calls for greater coordination and coherence among the various international institutions active in the field of trade, development and development finance, including the UN agencies responsible for human development, health, labour and the environment, with the view to achieving the MDGs and consolidating efforts to eliminate poverty and provide opportunities for all;

66.  Calls for the Parliament, as the legitimate representative of the citizens of the European Union, to be associated with agreements on international trade;

67.  Stresses that the fight to combat poverty is closely linked with the protection of human rights, the establishment of democratic institutions, and democratic governance;

68.  Welcomes the declaration made on 14 September 2005 at the UN's New York summit on the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, proposing to give consideration to the introduction of international solidarity contributions to the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, which would enable the international community to fulfil its undertakings to the poorest countries, while also contributing to a fair distribution of the new wealth generated by globalisation;

69.  Considers that not only trade, but especially economic development, investment in small and medium-sized businesses which supply goods and services, can have an impact on an increase in wealth in the future; calls, in particular, on the European Investment Bank to develop more programmes for these target groups;

70.  Stresses the importance of supporting LDCs in removing red tape in order to stimulate enterprise domestically and find markets abroad in particular by involvement of local communities, parliaments and civil society in developing countries in democratic processes;

71.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 112 E, 9.5.2002, p. 326.
(2) OJ C 177 E, 25.7.2002, p. 290.
(3) OJ C 272 E, 13.11.2003, p. 277.
(4) OJ C 39 E, 13.2.2004, p. 79.
(5) OJ C 43 E, 19.2.2004, p. 248.
(6) OJ C 67 E, 17.3.2004, p. 255.
(7) OJ C 74 E, 24.3.2004, p. 861.
(8) OJ C 76 E, 25.3.2004, p. 435.
(9) OJ C 77 E, 26.3.2004, p. 393.
(10) OJ C 304 E, 1.12.2005, p. 277.
(11) OJ C 92 E, 20.4.2006, p. 397.
(12) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2005)0289.
(13) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2005)0461.
(14) OJ C 320 E, 15.12.2005, p. 145.
(15) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2005)0454.
(16) OJ L 169, 30.6.2005, p. 1.

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