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PM presses for unity in developing world

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Hun Sen urges poor countries to band together for trade talks

Photo by: Tracey Shelton

Prime Minister Hun Sen, seen in this file photo, has urged poor countries to cooperate in trade negotiations with the West.

PRIME Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday appealed to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to collectively negotiate trade agreements with developed nations.

"For least developed countries like us, it is necessary to build solidarity and to speak with only one voice to ensure a joint triumph for everyone in negotiations," Hun Sen said during the opening of a two-day summit on trade liberalisation and aid in Siem Reap, which includes ministers from 49 of the world's poorest countries.

He said that developed countries have failed to deliver on previous commitments to poorer nations, including a promise to increase aid to 0.7 percent of gross domestic product. The prime minister also sharply attacked the West's trade barriers.

"We openly receive products from developed countries at higher prices, but when we export our products to them, trade barriers remain firmly in place," he said.

Developing countries have complained during World Trade Organisation negotiations that agricultural subsidies and trade barriers in the West are hindering growth.

"Tax issues are not always our concern, but [developed countries] impose sanitary conditions. Whatever items they say are substandard for their imports are subject to these conditions, which kills our trade," Hun Sen said.

Hun Sen also criticised developed nations for failing to honour promises to stop agricultural subsidies, which he said restricted agricultural production in the developing world by forcing poor nations to compete with artificially cheap goods.

Meanwhile, Cambodia's premier expressed his support for a new mandate for Pascal Lamy, the current general director of the WTO.

"As negotiations continue, especially the negotiations in Doha, many problems remain. Pascal Lamy is directly in charge of the negotiations, so I think that it is good if LDCs join forces to support him as WTO general director for a new term," Hun Sen said.

"I am not lobbying on his behalf, but I see that poor countries get benefits from him.

"We vote for him, but we have to ask him to serve us as well," he added.

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