Ban calls for end to trade 'logjam' to boost aid goals

UNITED NATIONS - UN leader Ban Ki-moon said Thursday the world must break a decade old "logjam" in trade talks to boost efforts to eradicate poverty.

Ban appealed for the action as he sought to rally support for the Millennium Development Goals, whose final deadlines are fast approaching. The economic crisis has badly hit the campaign to end poverty and boost health and education.

The UN secretary general said he hoped a World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Bali, Indonesia in December, "can make progress in breaking the logjam and reaping the development benefits of trade."

Ban presented a report on international efforts to reach the MDGs, which were set at a world summit in 2000 with a deadline of 2015. He said the results were "mixed."

The report said development aid to the poorest countries had fallen by four per cent in 2012 to $125.9 billion. It was the second straight annual drop and was again blamed on austerity measures caused by the global economic crisis.

Bilateral aid to the 49 poorest countries fell 12.8 per cent to $26 billion, according to the UN figures.

World trade grew by two per cent in 2012, down from 5.2 per cent in 2011, reflecting a slowdown in the wealthy nations.

The report said increasing trade could play a major role in the campaign to reach the MDGs, which will be widely discussed at the UN General Assembly leaders' meeting next week.

The WTO, which sets the rules for global trade, launched the Doha round of liberalization talks in 2001. But they have become bogged down in disputes between rich nations and the emerging powers and poorer countries over agricultural subsidies and tariff barriers.

The UN report called for greater efforts against tax evasion and for pharmaceutical companies to reduce the price of essential medicines to help the poorest countries battling AIDS, malaria and other diseases.