Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

LDCS cannot comply with crudial WTO agriculture trade terms, says Bangladesh

Bangladesh, 17 May 2002 -- Kathmandu - Least developing countries such as Bangladesh are too poor to comply with crucial agriculture trade requirements of the WTO (World Trade Organization) agreement, the country’s agriculture minister told a meeting of Asia-Pacific nations that ended here today.

While the South Asian nation is committed to the WTO terms, like most of the least developing countries (LDCs), it is “not in a position to comply with the sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements, as it necessitates huge investment”, Motiur Rahman Nizami, Minister for Agriculture of Bangladesh told the 26th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific.

Addressing the plenary session of the 13 to 17 May 25-nation conference, where 13 ministers and a prime minister are present, Mr Nizami said that Bangladesh favours an open trade regime to allow for timely imports as part of the country’s short-term strategy to achieve food security. Other elements of the strategy include adequate domestic production of food grain, building up buffer stocks, targeted distribution to the poor and price stabilization.

He outlined the policy and administrative measures taken by his country in keeping with Bangladesh’s commitment at the 1996 World Food Summit (WFS) to reduce by half by the year 2015, the number of hungry people. As a result, the production and availability of non-cereal protein food has increased significantly with a sustained annual growth rate of over eight percent in fishery and livestock.

Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga and the United States of America are attending the FAO conference in Kathmandu. Observers from the Holy See, Netherlands, representatives of UN specialized agencies and several intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are also present.

The Kathmandu meeting is one of a series of FAO regional conferences in preparation for a gathering of world leaders at the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS: fyl) to be held at FAO headquarters in Rome in June 2002. WFS: fyl has been convened to mobilize political will and resources to accelerate global hunger reduction in keeping with the WFS pledge by 185 nations.

RAP 02/20