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IN BALI 1. Whatever the expectations with which African countries came to Bali, they are leaving virtually emptyhanded. There is hardly anything of substance in the just adopted Bali package that addresses Africasdevelopmental imperatives. 2. The agreed text on trade facilitation is the very opposite of what African countries need to address the fundamental and peculiar challenges that they face in moving goods and services across national borders. The text imposes obligations on all countries to adopt customs procedures which are standard in the advanced industrial countries, and which most of the big emerging economies have already voluntarily adopted, and which are commensurate with the stage of economic development. African countries on the other hand, have to undertake massive legislative, policy and infrastructural changes to live up to these standards. However, the prior understanding to provide commensurate policy, technical,institutional and financial space and support for African countries to meet these changes was not adequately addressed in the text. If anything, the even weaker commitments agreed at the start of the Bali meeting were diluted even further e.g. references to financial support have been removed from the text. Furthermore, the new binding rules adopted take away even the means by which African countries can mobilise their own resources to meet these new changes. Above all, rather than simplify customs procedures, the text introduces new processes which stand to give foreign corporations undue influence in the customs of African countries and diminish the roleof domestic customs operators, further undermining African agenda of boosting intra-African trade and regional integration. 3. On agriculture and food security, the compromise deal, that is the peace clause, will protect the existing food security programmes of those countries that can already afford it. Poorer African countries who have the need to, but have not yet mobilised the finances to start these programmes, are restrained. Other issues that affect agriculture in Africa such as subsidies an dumping have been effectively sidelined. 4. With regards to the special package for Least Developed Countries, what have been agreed in the Bali package are essentially best endeavour clauses which little operational value. Indeed these provisions are a further weakening of the commitments that these countries have won on the same issues in earlier Ministerial Conferences. On cotton, which has been Africas litmus test of equity of the multilateral system, the Bali package only promises consideration of further action on earlier commitments. This is similar for other issues such as duty free quota free, and rules of origin. 5. Thus, on balance, African countries are leaving Bali essentially with diluted rhetoric on the issues of interest to them, while being encumbered with the onerous terms demanded by the developed countries. 6. Paradoxically, African Ministers have enthusiastically welcomed the package as meeting all their needs. Sadly, this underlies the fact that at this Ministerial, African Ministers can be said to have colluded with themarginalisation of the interests of their people by developed countries. As in other instances, this contributes to, rather than challenge, the systemic tendency of World Trade Organisation to exclude the effective articulation of the trade and non-trade concerns of ordinary people other than through further neo-liberal measures.

7. All these demonstrate the level of challenge that African citizens face in holding their governments to delivering the needs of their people. As civil society, meeting this challenge is our common task for the future. 8. We will expect our States to wake up, go back to the drawing board,take the negotiations seriously as having grievous implications for their people, and revisit the numerous proposals for redressing the imbalances in the multilateral trade system, arrest the introduction of new issues that expand and deepen the inequity of the WTO, and to deliver development for Africas peoples in international trade.


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