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December 2005

HONG KONG TRADE MINISTERIAL AGREES “INTERIM” DEAL; SETS 2006 DEADLINE FOR FINAL AGREEMENT

Last minute negotiations at the World Trade Organization's Hong Kong Ministerial have resulted in an interim agreement that will mean negotiators return to the bargaining table in 2006. The high-level meeting, which witnessed anti-globalization protests outside the venue, was held from 13-18 December. The conference wrapped up on Sunday 18 December with agreement on a declaration supporting the elimination of all forms of export subsidies by 2013. The outcome document also covered such issues as environmental agreements, cotton production, development issues, industrial goods, and services. The result was viewed by many as an “acceptable” or “modest” achievement that avoided earlier outright failures but did not secure any major breakthrough. However, some organizations expressed disappointment at the outcome, with Oxfam International condemning it for “failing to deliver on development promises.” Links to further information Official WTO conference website Draft Ministerial Declaration, 18 December 2005 ICTSD Bridges Daily Coverage, 13-18 December 2005 What the Hong Kong WTO agreement means, Deutsche Welle news report, 18 December 2005 Modest deal struck in Hong Kong, BBC news report, 18 December 2005 Green issues in Hong Kong, BBC news report, 9 December 2005 WTO seals farm deal amid protests, CNN news report, 18 December 2005 Oxfam International press release, 18 December 2005
UN SECOND COMMITTEE ADOPTS RESOLUTIONS ON DESERTIFICATION, FINANCING, SUMMIT FOLLOW-UP

In its final sessions for 2005 held in early to mid-December 2005, the UN Second Committee (Economic and Financial) has discussed and adopted decisions on a wide range of issues, including desertification, climate change, the international financial and trading system, follow up to the International Conference on Financing for Development, science and technology for development, sustainable development, good governance, international migration, women in development, globalization, least developed countries, poverty eradication, and debt reduction. Resolutions were also adopted on renewable energy and the World Solar Programme, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Institute for Training and Research, and the UN's role in supporting country-level strategies in following up on the 2005 World Summit. Links to further information UN reports from the Second Committee, early to mid-December 2005: 16 December 2005 15 December 2005 13 December 2005 9 December 2005 7 December 2005
GROWTH OF GLOBAL COMPACT HIGHLIGHTED

The increasing scope and membership of the UN Global Compact was highlighted during a recent speech to the UN NGO Committee on Sustainable Development. During a lunchtime seminar on 15 December 2005, UN Global Compact Office Director George Kell highlighted the growth of the compact and reported on recent meetings in Shanghai, Geneva and Berlin. The Compact asks companies to support core values relating to human rights, labor standards, the environment and anti-corruption. Links to further information Kell's speech UN Global Compact website
WORLD TOURISM ORGANIZATION CHANGES ACRONYM, RE-ELECTS SECRETARY-GENERAL

The General Assembly of World Tourism Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, has added the letters “UN” to its acronym to differentiate it from the other “WTO,” the World Trade Organization. This change came on 1 December 2005, during the UNWTO General Assembly meeting in Dakar, Senegal. The UNWTO Assembly also took action to re-elect Francesco Frangialli to a third term as Secretary-General. Frangialli told the Assembly that his principal aim was to further extend tourism's contribution to poverty alleviation through sustainable development. Link to further information UN Press Release

November 2005

GEF Replenishment Talks Cause Concern

November 2005: Discussions on funding of the Global Environment Facility are proving complex, with donors reportedly disagreeing on the appropriate level of funding. According to sources, discussions on the fourth “replenishment” of GEF were held on 21 and 22 November in Tokyo. However, according to several reports, the U.S. apparently offered considerably less than it had provided during the previous replenishment. A further meeting is likely to be held around 20 December (IISD sources).
TRADE DEAL ELUDES AMERICAS SUMMIT

Talks for a regional free trade zone made little headway during the Fourth Summit of the Americas meeting in Mar del Plata, Argentina. The gathering, which took place from 4-5 November 2005, saw disagreements over the proposal for a Free Trade Area of the Americas. While 29 countries supported resuming talks in 2006, five (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela) opposed this, preferring to wait until the outcome from the WTO Hong Kong ministerial became clear. Participants also heard some anti-U.S. and anti-George Bush rhetoric, mainly from Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. There were also protests against Bush's policies towards Latin America and in Iraq. However, a focus on job creation was praised by Juan Somavia, who heads the International Labour Organization. Links to further information Fourth Summit of the Americas Official Website No trade deal at Americas summit, BBC news, 6 November 2005 Leaders Fail to Agree on Free Trade Talks, AP/Yahoo news, 5 November 2005 UN Labour Chief Hails Summit of Americas for Focus on decent..., ILO statement, 10 November 2005
SECOND COMMITTEE DISCUSSES LDCS, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT; OTHER MEETINGS TACKLE FINANCING AND DEVELOPMENT

A lack of progress in implementing the Brussels Plan on Least Developed Countries was one of the issues taken up by the UN General Assembly's Second Committee (Economic and Financial) as it continued to meet in New York throughout early to mid-November 2005. In discussions held on 3 November, delegates wrapped up their consideration of sustainable development issues with a focus on the links between climate change and the growing number of natural disasters. In other news from UN headquarters, the UN International Forum to Build Inclusive Financial Sectors was held on 8 November, with delegates stressing microfinance and the importance of access to credit and other financial services for the poorest communities. Meanwhile, 21 countries pledged funding support for UN development work at the annual Pledging Conference for Development Activities held on 11 November 2005. Links to further information Reports from the Second Committee, November 2005 10 November 2005 3 November 2005 9 November 2005 2 November 2005 Financing and development reports from UN meetings, November 2005 11 November 2005 7 November 2005 3 November 2005
HOPES FOR STRONG HONG KONG OUTCOME FADE

An agreement at the upcoming Hong Kong conference on a comprehensive framework to conclude the Doha Round of trade talks appears less likely following recent discussions in Geneva and London. According to reports, the meetings achieved little movement on agriculture and other key issues, meaning hopes have dimmed for a complete deal at the World Trade Organization's Hong Kong ministerial in December. According to one report, EU trade commissioner ruled out any hopes for an agreement in Hong Kong. Instead, many observers are now suggesting that a partial deal is more likely, and that a second ministerial meeting will be needed in March 2006. Conservation group Friends of the Earth International has praised developing countries for “resisting European and US pressure to open their markets.” The group has argued that no deal is better than a deal that fails to focus on development. The EU recently offered some additional concessions in agriculture, but critics say they are inadequate and would not compensate for their demands on industrial tariffs and services. Links to further information WTO Hong Kong Sixth Ministerial Conference website Mandelson warning of WTO failure, 11 November 2005 Friends of the Earth International press release, 11 November 2005 Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest, 2-9 November 2005 - 9 November 2005 - 2 November 2005

October 2005

TRIPS COUNCIL DIVIDED ON DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS

Disclosure of the source of biological materials and related traditional knowledge in patent applications continues to be a highly controversial issue for the Council for Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). At its meeting in Geneva from 25-28 October 2005, India, supported by Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China, Cuba, Bolivia, Colombia, Thailand, Turkey and Indonesia, submitted a paper calling for a multilateral approach to disclosure. The paper responded to a recent U.S. submission, which argued for a contract-based approach based on national legislation. India believes such an approach would not prevent international misappropriation of genetic resources, as most resources are patented by multinational companies outside the country of origin. Australia, the EC, Canada and New Zealand agreed with the need for further discussion on how disclosure requirements could prevent biopiracy. During an informal consultation session on outstanding implementation issues relating to the relationship between TRIPS and the Convention on Biological Diversity, India submitted draft text for the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration in December 2005, calling for negotiations specifically on disclosure requirements. Links to further information BRIDGES Trade BioRes, 28 October 2005 Intellectual Property Watch, TRIPS Council issues still aliv..., 28 October 2005
UNEP FINANCE INITIATIVE GLOBAL ROUNDTABLE TAKES PLACE

A global roundtable has been held by the UN Environment Programme's Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) UNEP at UN headquarters in New York to evaluate the real risks and potential opportunities for the financial services community from the challenges of achieving sustainable development. The 2005 event, which took place on 25 and 26 October, was attended by an estimated 500 delegates and considered issues such as: responsible investment for the pension funds and foundations, environmental and social responsibility, carbon markets and clean energy, the insurance sector, project financing, hedge funds, alternative investments, and microfinance; and transparency, accountability and reporting. The meeting followed the release of a new report, A Legal Framework for the Integration of Environmental, Social and Governance Issues into Institutional Investment. The report was prepared by law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer at the invitation of UNEP FI's Asset Management Working Group. Links to further information UNEP Finance Initiative Global Roundtable Spotlight on Investors'> Environmental Responsibility
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, SECOND COMMITTEE CONSIDER FINANCING AND DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES

The Sixtieth Session of the General Assembly and its Second Committee have convened throughout October, addressing a wide range of development and environment challenges, particularly from a financial and economic perspective. The General Assembly examined issues of social development, including questions relating to youth, aging, disabled persons and the family (6 October). It also took up issues of sustained economic growth and sustainable development in Africa, the New Partnership for Africa's Development and the Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries (13 October), as well as coordination and follow up on major UN outcomes and commitments in the economic and social fields (25 October). In late October, the General Assembly discussed the 2005 report of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), with President Munir Akram ( Pakistan) highlighting the central role ECOSOC could play in promoting the international development agenda. He also discussed the World Summit's outcome supporting a more effective ECOSOC, and underscored ECOCOC's role in five specific areas: policy dialogue and implementation; development cooperation; coherence and coordination; responding to emergencies; and peace building. Issues on the General Assembly's agenda in November include peace and security, “sport for peace and development,” and oceans and the law of the sea. Delegates to the Second Committee started October with a far-ranging general debate, before moving on to discuss financing and macroeconomic policy issues and the need for special economic assistance for some countries (10-13 October). Later in the month, issues of information and communications technology, equity and development, and globalization were taken up (17-28 October). There were also side events on national growth strategies (7 October), external debt relief for a range of countries (12 October), new rules for the global finance coalition (13 October), and the World Economic Forum (24 October). Issues on the agenda for November include trade and development, UN Habitat (human settlements), sustainable development, micro-credit and poverty eradication, operational activities for development, energy efficiency, remittances and innovative sources of financing, global partnerships, and training and research. Links to further information UN General Assembly 60th session website Second Committee schedule, October-November 2005
TRADE TALKS MUST MEET LDCS' NEEDS, SAYS CIVIL SOCIETY

The World Trade Organization's Hong Kong Ministerial Conference must be used to end the marginalization of least developed countries in the global trading system, according to civil society groups. The International Civil Society Forum for Advancing LDC Interests in the Sixth Ministerial in the Context of the Doha Development Round, met in Dhaka, Bangladesh from 3-5 October 2005. Participants adopted a “Dhaka Declaration” setting out a series of measures to ensure that the Doha Round of trade talks retains a genuine focus on development issues. Links to further information The meeting report and Dhaka Declaration
AGRICULTURE TRADE TALKS REMAIN BOGGED DOWN

A breakthrough in agriculture negotiations apparently remains elusive with just weeks to go before the World Trade Organization's Hong Kong Ministerial Conference in December. Little movement has been reported in negotiations on cuts to tariffs and subsidies by developed countries, with the US and the EU apparently taking quite different positions. WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy recently identified market access for agricultural goods as the most contentious issue under negotiation. Recent talks have also prompted disputes within the EU, with France reportedly seeking to limit the negotiating flexibility of Europe's trade commissioner Peter Mandelson in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the WTO's Working Group on Trade, Debt and Finance has agreed that it will seek a simple renewal of its mandate in the Doha Declaration at the Hong Kong meeting. The decision to fall back on previously-agreed text was made after disagreements over proposals made by Argentina and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries group. In other news, divisions remain over the definition of environmental goods for the purposes of trade liberalization, according to a Bridges Weekly news report. Links to further information World Trade Talks Near Showdown, BBC news, 23 October 2005 Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest reports, 19 October 2005 Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest reports, 12 October 2005

September 2005

IMF, WORLD BANK AGREE ON DEBT CANCELLATION

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have reportedly confirmed that as much as US$55 billion in debts owed by the world's poorest countries will be canceled. The decision, which was taken during the IMF/World Bank Annual Meeting from 24-25 September 2005, confirms the proposals made at the recent Gleneagles G8 Summit. However, some of the fine print apparently has yet to be finalized. Links to further information The IMF official meeting website BBC news report, 26 September 2005
WTO DISCUSSIONS ON ENVIRONMENTAL GOODS TURN TECHNICAL

The latest meeting of the World Trade Organization's Committee on Trade and Environment, held from 15-16 September 2005, has focused on technical rather than controversial political matters, according to reports. Meanwhile, talks on agriculture and trade focused on the need to agree on a “comprehensive” approach, while talks on services apparently stumbled over a new proposal on market access. WTO meetings resumed in September following a break in August. A high-level meeting on agriculture, held in Paris on 22 and 23 September, did not bring any change in negotiating positions. The Hong Kong ministerial meeting, which some hope will result in a breakthrough on the Doha round, takes place in December 2005. Links to further information ICTSD Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest: 21 September 2005 and 28 September 2005

July 2005

DEVELOPMENT ISSUES VEX WIPO MEMBERS

Members of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) have met to discuss development concerns, although no final agreement was reached. The Intersessional Intergovernmental Meeting took place from 20-22 July 2005 in Geneva. However, according to news reports, differences between a group of developing countries and the US and Japan meant no firm recommendation on development issues will be taken to WIPO's General Assembly meeting, which is scheduled for late September 2005. Link to further information IP Watch news report, 23 July 2005
G8 DEALS ON AFRICA, CLIMATE CHANGE DELIGHT, DISAPPOINT

The G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland has ended to mixed reviews over its agreements on Africa and climate change. The meeting, held from 6-8 July 2005, resulted in deals to increase debt relief and aid boost to Africa by US$25 billion annually by 2010 – results many felt had produced the most successful G8 Summit yet. However, critics argued that much more could have been achieved. “It isn't all everyone wanted but it is progress - real and achievable progress,” said British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the Africa deal. Since the meeting finished, however, concerns about the G8's debt relief deal have surfaced, with reports suggesting that several donor countries might be trying to rewrite the details of the agreement. Limited Progress on Climate Change Meanwhile, there was some movement at the G8 Summit on climate change, with the US agreeing to text recognizing humanity's serious impact on climate change. There was no shift in President Bush's policy opposing specific emissions targets, though. Some commentators praised the role of civil society at the Summit, and the involvement of leaders from a number of African countries, as well as China, India, Brazil and Mexico. The meeting also resulted in agreements to increase support to Africa on HIV/AIDS, further assist the Palestinian Authority, and combat terrorism – an issue brought to the forefront by the London bombings. However, the meeting did not result in any final agreement on a date to end export subsidies – a key area of concern for developing countries. Links to further information: G8 Chair's Summit Summary, 8 July 2005 Gleneagles G8 Communiqué on Climate Change, Energy and ..., 8 July 2005 Can G8 Be Considered a Success? BBC news report, 8 July 2005 Secretary-General congratulates g-8 for steps on africa, cli..., UN press release, 8 July 2005 Reaction polarized as G8 concludes, CNN news, 9 July 2005 G8 Debt Deal under Threat at IMF, BBC news report, 15 July 2005
TRADE TALKS STALL

The latest series of negotiations at the World Trade Organization have ended without any major breakthrough. Aimed at paving the way for a successful outcome at a ministerial-level meeting taking place in Hong Kong in December, the latest talks ended in late July without agreement on longstanding disputes over agriculture, development concerns and a variety of other issues. The end of July had been set as the deadline for reaching initial agreement on major issues under the Doha round of trade talks. The days before the deadline involved a flurry of urgent negotiations. However, in spite of the involvement of several senior ministers, no breakthrough was achieved. Despite widespread disappointment at the lack of progress, a spokesperson for environmental group Friends of the Earth International observed that “no deal at the WTO was better than a bad deal” that failed to help those living in poverty. The International Chamber of Commerce expressed concerns at the “missed opportunity,” while expressing hope that the upcoming talks could still set a course that would support “global economic growth and job creation.” Links to further information ICTSD Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest reports, 3 August 2005: http://www.ictsd.org/weekly/05-08-03/story4.htm and http://www.ictsd.org/weekly/05-08-03/story3.htm Trade talks: No deal better than a bad deal, Friends of the Earth press release, 29 July 2005 Business disappointed by lack of progress on Doha round in G..., ICC press release, 29 July 2005 Continued delays jeopardize hopes of pro-poor trade reform a..., Oxfam press release, 28 July 2005

June 2005

LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES PREPARE FOR WTO MINISTERIAL

The world's least developed countries have agreed a common position on trade issues heading into the World Trade Organization's ministerial meeting in Hong Kong in December 2005. The agreement was reached during a meeting of ministers in Livingstone, Zambia on 27 June 2005. Meanwhile, in other trade news, the EU has approved a new Generalized System of Preferences for trade with developing countries. More information: Reports from ICTSD Bridges Weekly.
SOUTH-SOUTH SUMMIT URGES INCREASED COOPERATION, LAUNCHES FUND

Increased cooperation was the focus of the second South Summit of the Group of 77 developing countries. Held in Doha, Qatar from 16-17 June 2005, the Summit discussed South-South solidarity and greater cooperation on issues such as trade, technology sharing, and capacity building. The Summit also saw the launch of a new South Fund for Development, with 20 million dollars pledged by Qatar. The South's relationship with the North and progress on the Millennium Development Goals were also considered. Links to further information:
Official South Summit website UN Envoy Welcomes Doha Declaration on Support for Developing..., UN News Centre, 21 June 2005 South Summit Launches Fund for Poorer Nations, Yahoo/IPS news, 16 June 2005 New Nation editorial, 17 June 2005
TRIPS COUNCIL DIVIDED OVER DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS

Members of the WTO Council for Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) remained divided over the need for disclosure of origin of genetic resources and traditional knowledge in patent applications at a recent meeting, according to reports. The TRIPS Council met from 14-15 June 2005 in Geneva. Prior to the Council meeting, informal consultations were held on the relationship between the TRIPS Council and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Consultations are expected to continue. Links to further information: BRIDGES Trade BioRes, 24 June 2005
G8 AGREES DEBT RELIEF DEAL

A major agreement among the G8 nations to write off tens of billions of dollars in foreign debts owed by 18 of the world's poorest countries has been secured at a meeting of G8 finance ministers in London. The deal, which could offer up to US$55 billion of debt relief, was agreed during a meeting held on 10 and 11 June 2005. The official conclusions of the meeting. BBC news report, 11 June 2005.
MICROCREDIT DISCUSSIONS HELD

United Nations officials and financial experts from the financial sector have met to discuss how to make financial services available to those living in poverty and on low incomes. The meeting, held in New York on 10 June 2005, is part of events marking the International Year of Microcredit, 2005. UN News Center report.

April 2005

COMMITTEE LINKS INFORMATION ECONOMY, AFRICA'S DEVELOPMENT

Africa's full participation in information and communications technologies (ICT) and the information economy is essential for its future development, according to participants at a recent meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Fourth Meeting of the Committee on Development Information (CODI-IV), held at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Africa from 23-28 April 2005, focused on the theme, “Information as an Economic Resource.” The Committee urged governments to strengthen policies that create information and knowledge-based economies, noting the continent's potential to benefit from growth in the software development software and other ICTs. More information.
MUTUAL SUPPORT BETWEEN CBD, WTO URGED

Several areas of controversy need to be resolved and concrete steps implemented if mutual supportiveness between the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) is to be achieved, according to experts at a recent workshop. Participants at the workshop focused on disclosure requirements, with particular emphasis placed on discussions dealing with access and benefit-sharing, traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights. The meeting, which took place in Geneva on 21 April 2005, was organized by the Center of International Environmental Law, International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development, L' Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales, IUCN and the Quaker United Nations Office. Links to further information: Ensuring the Incorporation of Biodiversity in the World Trad..., IUCN Press Release, 21 April 2005 Disclosure Requirements: Incorporating the CBD Principles in..., April 2005
WORLD BANK, IMF URGE ACTION ON POVERTY

Members of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have urged greater action on poverty and warned of risks to the global economy during meetings held in mid-April. The World Bank-IMF 2005 “Spring Meetings,” held in Washington, D.C. on 16 and 17 April, resulted in calls for poverty reduction to “remain at the top of the international agenda.” In spite of predicting “robust” global economic growth for 2005, it also warned of growing imbalances within regions, exchange rate volatility, and the risks posed by oil price rises. The two organizations recently issued a report warning that the Millennium Development Goals intended to address poverty, disease and other issues would be put at risk unless the international community acts with greater urgency and commitment. However, some news reports suggested that the Spring Meetings ended without achieving any major new political breakthrough on these issues. There was also apparently little headway made during a recent G7 finance ministers' meeting on debt relief. Links to further information IMF “Spring Meetings” website, April 2005 The report, Global Monitoring Report 2005: From Consensus to Momentum, 2005 Discerning a New Course for World's Donor Nations, New York Times, 18 April 2005 Debt relief delayed by indecision, BBC news, 18 April 2005
CAIRNS GROUP URGES AGRICULTURE TRADE REFORM

Agriculture reform should be at the center of the Doha trade round, according to ministers from the Cairns Group of countries. Ministers from the Cairns Group, which represents 17 agricultural exporters, supported an end to all subsidies during a meeting held from 30 March to 1 April 2005 in Cartagena, Colombia. Their Cartagena Declaration supported the “elimination of all forms of export subsidies, given their pernicious effects on agricultural markets.” The Declaration.

March 2005

TRIPS COUNCIL DISCUSSES BENEFIT-SHARING

The World Trade Organization's Council for Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) has resumed its discussions on the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). At the latest meeting, held from 8-9 March 2005, in Geneva, Switzerland, a number of developing countries submitted a proposal on the need to provide evidence of benefit-sharing in patent applications. The proposal on benefit-sharing, submitted by Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, India, Peru and Thailand, touched on the final element of a checklist of issues that were submitted a year ago by Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, India, Peru, Thailand and Venezuela. The aim of this submission was to facilitate and structure the discussion on the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the CBD. The checklist also included the elements of disclosure of origin and source, and prior informed consent, which were addressed in earlier proposals. The proposal on benefit-sharing examines: the meaning of evidence of benefit-sharing under the relevant national regime; the timing of evidence to be introduced by the patent applicant; obligations in the case of absence of a relevant national regime; and the legal effect of not providing evidence of benefit-sharing, including the non-processing of the application and the revocation of the patent. According to reports, positions taken during the meeting remained largely unchanged. Developing countries called for an international system to prevent misappropriation of genetic resources and traditional knowledge. Developed countries restated that the TRIPS Agreement and the CBD can be mutually supportive, and opposed amendment of the TRIPS Agreement in this regard. Brazil and India further submitted a communication (IP/C/W/442) responding to issues raised in an earlier US submission (IP/C/W/434). The US position is that it sees no conflict between the TRIPS Agreement and the CBD and “views with the utmost caution any proposals that would add uncertainties in patent rights that may undermine the role of the delicately balanced patent system in its primary purpose of encouraging innovation, technological progress and economic development.” Links to further information ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes, Vol. 5 No. 5, 18 March 2005 Officials make incremental progress in TRIPS talks, IP Watch, 15 March 2005 Proposal on benefit-sharing (IP/C/W/442) and other submissi..., WTO website, 2005
PARIS MEETING ADOPTS DECLARATION ON AID EFFECTIVENESS

Ministers of developed and developing countries responsible for promoting development and Heads of multilateral and bilateral development institutions have adopted the Paris Declaration on Aid Harmonization, in which they resolve to take far-reaching and monitorable actions to reform the ways aid is delivered and managed in view of the upcoming UN review of the Millennium Declaration and the MDGs. The Paris High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, which took place from 28 February to 2 March 2005, was cosponsored by the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Inter American Development Bank, the OECD/DAC, the UN and the World Bank. In the Declaration, delegates recognize that while the volumes of aid and other development resources must increase to achieve international development goals, aid effectiveness must also increase significantly to support partner country efforts to strengthen governance and improve development performance. The Declaration contains several actions, including 12 specify indicators, timetable and targets. In the Declaration, delegates agreed to set targets for the year 2010, involving actions by both donors and partner countries, designed to track and encourage progress at the global level among the countries and agencies that have agreed to this Declaration. The five preliminary targets agreed to in Paris will be reviewed before targets against the remaining indicators are established prior to the UN General Assembly Summit in September 2005. Ministers also agreed to meet again in 2008 in a developing country and conduct two rounds of monitoring prior to that meeting to review progress in implementing the Paris Declaration. Links to further information Aid Harmonization and Alignment website Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness Webcast of High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness Paris HLF - Harmonization, Alignment and Results - Final Ag... Harmonization, Alignment, Results: Report on Progress, Chal...

February 2005

IDA REPLENISHMENT NEGOTIATIONS CONCLUDE WITH AGREEMENT TO AUGMENT FUNDS

The conclusion of the recent negotiations on the 14th replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA) has brought about a 25 percent increase in resources over the IDA13 replenishment. About $34 billion in resources will be made available to development assistance over the next three years, of which approximately $18 billion will appear from new contributions. While this represents the largest increase in IDA resources in many years, the amount still falls short of the 30 percent target supported by donors at the Deputies meeting held in Athens in December 2004. Some donors are looking into the possibility of additional pledges to meet the 30 percent target. The new resources will be distributed under the IDA14 policy framework for poverty reduction agreed in Athens. This framework is underpinned by several measures, including: a system for allocating grants based on countries' debt vulnerability; a strong focus on economic growth, private sector investment and infrastructure development; a system based on development performance; increased transparency and accountability; and measures to strengthen coordination and harmonization among development partners. The IDA is the part of the World Bank that seek to help poor countries reduce poverty by providing interest-free loans and some grants for programmes aimed at boosting economic growth. Links to further information Donors agree to substantial increase in new money for poore..., World Bank press release, 22 February 2005 Chair's summary
WTO COMMITTEES RESUME DOHA DISCUSSIONS

The World Trade Organization has resumed its work on advancing the Doha round of trade negotiations in the lead-up to the Hong Kong ministerial meeting in December 2005. Talks resumed in various committees, including the agriculture committee, where discussions held from 7-11 February apparently witnessed debates over the preferential access to some markets currently enjoyed by some African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. There were also disagreements on tariffs based on product prices—also known as “ad valorem equivalents.” Informal talks on non-agricultural market access, held from 31 January to 4 February, resulted in little progress on issues such as tariff reductions. However, a special session of the Committee on Trade and Development on 8 February reportedly resulted in a decision to move forward with negotiations on proposals relating to special and differential treatment. Finally, at a Trade Negotiations Committee meeting held on 14 February, participants reportedly stressed the need for agreement by December 2005 on the “outlines” of a deal that would allow the Doha round to be wrapped-up in 2006. For more information, visit ICTSD Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest (Volume 9 Numbers 4 and 5).
G7 FINANCE MINISTERS DISCUSS NEW FINANCE PROPOSALS AND ADOPT CONCLUSIONS ON DEVELOPMENT

The meeting of G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was held from 4-5 February 2005 in London. The meeting addressed a wide range of issues, including trade, debt, aid, energy, the MDGs, and new proposals for financing development. At the conclusion of the meeting, Ministers issued a Statement and Conclusions on Development. Finance Ministers Statement: In their Statement, Ministers and Central Bank Governors outlined several priority issues, including the challenges and opportunities of the global economy, trade, medium-term energy issues and the risks of current oil prices, exchange rates, efficient labor markets, and the tsunami disaster. They agreed on the importance to global growth of an ambitious result at the Hong Kong WTO ministerial with a view to concluding the Doha Development Round, including on financial services. The Statement commits Ministers to provide support to build the infrastructure and capacity to enable developing countries to benefit from trade opportunities and called on the IFIs to play a major role in this respect. On issues concerning energy, the Statement recognizes the importance of: raising medium-term energy supply, energy efficiency, and technology and innovation in ensuring energy security. On the tsunami disaster, Ministers agreed to defer debt payments up to the end of 2005 (consistent with national laws), without payment of interest during this period, and to promote this sentiment in the Paris Club. G7 Finance Proposals: During the meeting, attention was given to a wide range of proposals on financing development for poverty reduction, in particularly the UK's proposal for an International Finance Facility (IFF) to frontload aid to meet the MDGs. The IFF is backed to differing degrees by Germany, France and Italy, while the US, Japan and Canada have indicated that they cannot support the UK's plan. Germany has proposed that the IFF's bond guarantees come from a tax on air fuel duty and plane tickets, not increased aid budgets, and France has introduced its strategy of raising funds by taxing international capital flows, including on financial transactions and plane tickets. Germany and France also announced their joint development plan to increase resources devoted to development financing, which would consist of an immunization programme financed by a mechanism similar to the IFF. Japan is pushing for a special fund within the African Development Bank to promote areas such as assistance for smaller firms, with the aim to pooling $200 million over five years, of which Japan would contribute 20 percent. Japan has also called for an expansion of the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and to make PRGF loans interest-rate free. To expand the PRGF, Japan has proposed using IMF gold reserves, either by selling the reserves or reassessing their value. The US has cited legal problems in connection with the IFF, noting that the US Congress cannot make budget commitments beyond one year. The US has indicated it preference to funnel money through its Millennium Challenge Account, and is also pushing its own aid initiative and an idea for the World Bank to eliminate debt and replace loans with grants. Conclusions on Development: Ministers also issued a separate set of “Conclusions on Development” addressing a range of issues related to: aid, trade, debt, Africa, HIV/AIDS and new proposals for development finance. In the Conclusions, Ministers: reaffirmed their commitment to help developing countries achieve the MDGs by 2015, particularly in Africa; noted the need for particular bilateral and multilateral donors to harmonize their operational procedures, align aid behind country-owned priorities, and provide for measurable results; and stressed that the Doha Round delivers substantial benefits to developing countries. On new proposals for development finance, Ministers agreed to a work programme to prepare decisions at the 2005 G8 Summit on: the IFF and its pilot, the IFF for immunization; some of the revenue proposals from the Landau Report brought forward by France and Germany, which could also refinance the IFF; the US's Millennium Challenge Account; and other financing measures. On debt relief, the Conclusions note that more needs to be done to provide 100% multilateral debt relief, and requests the IMF and the World Bank to look at the issue of debt sustainability in low-income countries that are not part of the HIPC initiative. Links to further information Statement of G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governor... G7 Finance Ministers Conclusions on Development G7 Main points from weekend meeting, BizWorld, 6 February 2005 G7 Struggles to Break Deadlock on Poor Countries, Bloomberg, 5 February 2005 Britain Pledges to Push Ahead With Plan, Forbes, 5 February 2005
FORUM ON PARTNERSHIPS FOR MORE EFFECTIVE DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION

Forging partnerships and enhancing dialogue for more effective development cooperation were the focus of a recent meeting held in Paris. Organized by the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and UNDP, the Forum on Partnerships for More Effective Development Co-operation, which was held in Paris from 1-2 February, brought together for the first time in eight years, OECD DAC members, non-OECD governments and institutions engaged in development cooperation and South-South initiatives. According to a Joint Chair's statement on the meeting, participants: agreed that there was significant scope for greater coordination and mutual learning between OECD and non-OECD participants; recognized the importance of the goals contained in the Millennium Declaration and the need for resources to achieve them; underscored the importance of South-South and triangular cooperation; urged better information on assistance from the donor community; recognized the importance of effective aid delivery at all levels; discussed lessons learnt from the tsunami disaster; and addressed the issue of development policy coherence. The Joint Chair's Statement.

January 2005

WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM 2005

Combating global poverty and climate change were two major topics taken up at the 2005 World Economic Forum held from 26-30 January in Davos, Switzerland. Convened under the theme “Taking Responsibility for Tough Choices,” the annual Davos gathering was attended by many of the world's most prominent politicians, businesspeople and academics. Among the key events that kicked off the Forum was a Global Town Hall meeting that identified six key priority issues facing the global community: poverty, equitable globalization; climate change; education; the Middle East; and global governance. On poverty relief, discussions focused on various measures, including the UK's International Finance Facility, debt relief, and removal of trade barriers. On globalization, delegates underscored the importance of completing the Doha round of negotiations. Delegates also urged the adoption of technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Among the concrete initiatives announced during the week were a commitment by 62 corporate leaders to a “Zero-tolerance Policy on Bribery and Corruption,” and a partnership between the Forum's Global Greenhouse Gas Register with the Carbon Disclosure Project on increasing the engagement and commitment of the corporate and investment community in addressing greenhouse gas emissions and carbon risks. Throughout the week, participants also attended sessions on climate change, global economic growth, the world trade system, debt relief for Africa, China's economic development goals, Germany's development vision, and the UK's G8 agenda. According to the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), the WEF will “most likely be remembered for” an informal meeting of trade ministers held on 29 January, which provided a “political kick-start” to the Doha Round of negotiations at the WTO. As noted by ICTSD, delegates at the “mini-ministerial” agreed to focus on, inter alia: modalities for agriculture; a formula for reducing tariffs on industrial goods; progress on trade facilitation and strengthening WTO rules; and a “proper reflection of the development dimension” of the negotiations. World Social Forum Offers Alternative Prescription: Meanwhile, the World Social Forum (WSF), held from 26-31 January in Porto Alegre, Brazil, heard calls to address serious concerns over inequalities in the world's trade system and to oppose the prevailing neo-liberal economic model. The 2005 event, held at the same time as the Davos gathering, drew 155,000 participants from 135 countries, according to organizers. Among the notable outcomes of the Forum was the development of a Manifesto by 19 high-profile WSF activists, two of whom are Nobel Prize winners and many of whom are founders of the WSF and members of its International Committee. The Manifesto caused a stir at the open Forum, which has prided itself on not producing such consensus documents. “It's not possible to continue to speak of ‘another world is possible' if we do not make some proposals about how to reach this other world,” said Ricardo Petrella, a signatory of the Manisfesto. The Manifesto is a 12-point document highlighting the main themes discussed at WSF 2005, including: debt cancellation, adoption of the Tobin tax on currency transactions, dismantling of tax havens, promotion of equitable forms of trade, a guarantee on the sovereignty of a country's right to not only be able to produce affordable food for its citizens, but also to police its food supply; the implementation of anti-discrimination polices against minorities and females, and democratization of international organizations, including relocating the UN headquarters in New York to the South. A “Proposals' Mural for a Construction of Other Worlds” is currently being developed into a WSF “memory website” to bring together the conclusions and proposals resulting from all the activities realized at the WSF 2005. Links to further information World Economic Forum 2005 website World Social Forum 2005 website ICTSD Trade BioRes, 4 February 2005 Diary of the World Social Forum, BBC news, 31 January 2005 Group of 19: The Consensus of Porto Alegre?, IPS news, 30 January 2005 WSF memory website
Meeting Concludes 10-year Review of the Barbados Programme of Action, Adopts Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation

January 2005: Following a year of negotiations, which began in the Bahamas in January 2004, the BPOA review process concluded in January 2005 in Mauritius, with the adoption of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Climate change, trade and transport of hazardous wastes proved to be among the most contentious issues during the process, which culminated at the International Meeting (IM) to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS. The IM convened from 10-14 January 2005, at the Swami Vivekananda International Convention Center in Port Louis, Mauritius, where almost 2000 participants were in attendance, including 18 presidents, vice-presidents and prime ministers, some 60 ministers, and representatives of UN agencies, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. From the perspective of moving forward on implementation, the IM raised the profile of SIDS issues, brought the BPOA more in line with current development funding priorities, and forged links with the review of the Millennium Declaration and with the Doha round of trade negotiations. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage]