By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK MINISTER of Trade and Industry Immanuel Ngatjizeko says the one-size-fits-all special and differential treatment for developing countries does not take into account peculiar situations facing such countries. As a lower middle-income developing country, Ngatji-zeko says, Namibia finds itself in a peculiar situation vis a vis the context of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations. He told the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong that the country has made commitments comparable to those of developed countries under the Uruguay Round and is also expected to make further commitments as a developing country. But, said Ngatjizeko, the country faced tariff peaks and tariff escalations in the developed country markets, which showed that the one-size-fits-all approach did not take into account the country’s situation. As a lower middle income country, Namibia does not have access to concessional facilities and debt relief, and its survival lies in deriving benefits of exporting goods and services in order to address its developmental challenges. “It is our view that we should be innovative to ensure the WTO finds formulas that address concerns and expectations of all its members, taking into account their special circumstances,” he added. Due to the fact that agriculture provides a livelihood to many people both in developing and developed countries, Ngatjizeko urged the meeting to ensure that agriculture pursues pro-poor growth and development imperatives. According to the Millennium Development Goals Report 2004, a large part of Namibia’s population of 1.8 million people depends on small-scale agriculture for employment. The Doha Development Agenda has placed emphasis on development as centre of the negotiations. The European Union and the African Union have proposed a development package for Hong Kong, which includes more aid for trade, more flexibilities for the poorer countries and to ensure that developed countries provide duty-free access and quota-free access to products from Least Developed Countries. Ngatijizeko in his speech said the implementation of the agenda is supposed to yield a fair, equitable and balanced result. “It is important that any outcome of trade negotiations benefits members and creates opportunities for trade and development, especially for developing countries that constitute the majority of the WTO membership,” he said. The end result of the round should among others create market access opportunities, particularly for developing countries, which should enable them industrialise, develop service sectors, generate wealth, employment opportunities and ownership of resources and ensure that trade contributes to the eradication of poverty. The minister also said that Namibia was committed to the rules-based multilateral trading system as the way through which economies of developing countries could meaningfully integrate into the world economy. Namibia’s commitment, said he, was demonstrated through the country’s participation in SADC, SACU, which promote the free movement of goods, and intra regional trade between the regional bodies, as well as other trading blocks in the world. But apart from promoting development through trade, the WTO, said the minister, should also contribute to the achievement of peace and peaceful coexistence among nations.
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