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Words in the News
Wednesday 10 September 2003
WTO meeting in Cancun
worker beside soft drinks cabinet The controversial issue of European and American agricultural subsidies will dominate the agenda at the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico. A new grouping of developing nations has expressed doubts on the meeting's success unless substantial changes are made. This report from Mike Wooldridge:
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This conference is intended to kick-start the negotiations on freer and fairer trade, with a particular emphasis on improving the lives of those in the poorest nations. Deadlines have slipped and it's long been uncertain how much progress could be made here.

Now, twenty-one developing nations have come together to say, in effect, that they believe the meeting will be doomed unless there's a radical shift by the rich nations. They call for an end to subsidies on agricultural exports, substantial cuts in other financial support for agriculture that distorts trade and substantially greater access to the markets of developed countries.

What's significant is that this initiative has brought together key nations such as China, India and Brazil and together, the twenty-one make up half the world's population and more than sixty percent of its farmers. The Brazilian foreign minister called it historic. British ministers here see it as part of the staking-out of positions before the conference. But they're not playing down the difficulties in overcoming the hurdles.

Mike Wooldridge, BBC
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if you kick-start something you try to get it moving quickly
special importance given to something
certain to fail
a radical shift
a profound change in practices or ideas
monetary help or incentives to produce more (or less)
substantial cuts
large, significant reductions
make up
add up to
marking out attitudes to problems
obstacles, difficulties
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