On the right path to development: African Countries Pave the Way

16 June, 2006

The June 7 proposal by the African Group (an alliance of 41 African countries) to the WTO on managing trade in agricultural commodities is a refreshing way forward for addressing poverty and improving living standards in rural areas in the context of the Doha Agenda. The proposal emphasizes the need to ensure stable, equitable and remunerative prices for commodity producers and to deal with structural oversupplies in commodity markets. The proposal lays down a challenge to WTO members: are they serious about doing something for development with the Doha Agenda or not? With some WTO member Trade Ministers expected in Geneva on June 28 for a so-called "Mini-Ministerial" in an attempt to finalize the negotiations, time is running out for the membership to take a stand. This is a last-ditch attempt to ensure the Doha Agenda includes the issues that enticed African countries in particular to the negotiating table back in 2001, when the Doha Agenda was first agreed.

Since the Doha Ministerial Conference in November 2001, a group of African countries including C