The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP

Media release

Friday, 16 December 2005 - MVT94/2005

Australia supports Least Developed Countries at Hong Kong WTO Ministerial

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile, announced today an additional contribution from the Australian Government of at least $4 million for Aid for Trade activities arising from the World Trade Organization's Doha negotiations.

Mr Vaile said, "This new contribution is in addition to the $32m already provided by Australia in 2004 for trade-related technical assistance, which is mainly targeted to assisting developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region and the WTO's Global Trust Fund."

The Aid for Trade initiative proposed by the World Bank and the IMF aims to help developing countries, particularly least-developed countries (LDCs), to build the capacity to take advantage of the opportunities provided by trade liberalisation. The World Bank/IMF proposal is for assistance worth US$200-400 million over 5 years from all donors.

Mr Vaile said "The key development benefits from the Doha Round will come from the core negotiating areas, particularly the reform of international agricultural trade which remains hugely distorted. It is nevertheless important to assist developing countries' participation in the multilateral trading system to ensure they are able to take advantages of the outcomes of the Doha negotiations."

Mr Vaile said that Australia's offer to contribute will help to get the Aid for Trade initiative off the ground. He said Australia was also playing a key role at the Ministerial Conference in securing agreement on strong outcomes for LDCs, particularly on duty-free quota-free market access.

"Australia has already taken a leadership role through our decision in July 2003 to provide duty-free quota-free access for LDCs. Our scheme is among the most comprehensive in the world because it is for all products and all LDCs with no phase-in periods or exceptions," Mr Vaile said.

This additional contribution to Aid for Trade reflects Australia's strong commitment to the Doha Development Agenda.

Contacts: Carissa Buckland 02 6277 7420 or Richard Forbes (Hong Kong) 0418 273475

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