The Global Call to Action Against Poverty, the largest international alliance for the elimination of global poverty, called on the European trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, for the 149 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), who are meeting in Hong Kong until next Monday (19), to sign pledges guaranteeing the fulfillment of the Goals of the Millennium and the battle against extreme poverty.
The request was submitted to Mandelson in a petition containing 426,733 signatures gathered around the world in the past three weeks. The Global Call wants an end to subsidies that are conceded by rich countries to their farmers, maintaining thousands of people in poverty.
"We don’t need help if we have access to markets," said Rezaul Karrim Chowdhury, who delivered the document to the European commissioner.
Rezaul, who is from Bangladesh, points out that 35% of his country’s 140 million inhabitants survive on less than US$ 1 per day, while Europe spends 2 euros a day in subsidies for each cow.
Besides an end to farm subsidies, the representatives of civil society ask the developed countries to stop pressuring the developing countries to open up their economies.
They also want the rich countries to allow the poorer nations to protect their public services and have secure access to essential medicines.
Mandelson received the document and told the demonstrators that they should deliver it to the other ministers of trade attending the WTO’s 6th Ministerial Meeting.
"This is an important message, and I hope that everyone in the WTO listens to it. It’s what society wants," he declared.
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