ME and Ophelia

Thursday, June 17, 2004

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On trade and development

Extracts from Fidel Castro's message on trade and development to the 11th UNCTAG Conference June 13, 2004:

- If 25 years ago five hundred million people were going hungry, today over 800 million are starving.
- In the poor countries, 150 million children are born underweight, which raises their risks of death as well as of mental and physical underdevelopment.
- 325 million children do not attend school.
- Infant mortality rate under one year is 12 times higher than it is in the rich countries.
- 33 thousand children die every day in the Third World of curable illnesses.
- Two million girls are forced into prostitution.
- 85 percent of the world population made up by poor countries consumes only 30 percent of the energy, 25 percent of the metals and 15 percent of the timber.
- There are billions of full illiterates or functional illiterates on the planet.

85% of the world population lives in the poor countries but their share of international trade is only 25%.

- These countries' external debt was close to 50 billion USD in 1964, the year this United Nations agency was born, while today it is 2.6 trillion.
- Between 1982 and 2003, that is, in 21 years the poor world paid 5.4 trillion USD in debt service, which means that its present sum has been paid to the rich countries more than twice.

The poor countries were promised development aid and the steady reduction of the gap between the rich and the poor; they were even promised that it would reach 0.7% of the so-called GDP of those economically developed, a figure that if true would amount today to no less than 175 billion USD annually.

What the Third World received as official development aid in 2003 was only 54 billion USD. That same year, the poor paid to the rich 436 billion in debt service and the richest of them all, the United States of America, was the one farther from meeting the set goal, as it allocated only 0.1% of its GDP to that aid. And this leaves out the enormous amounts taken away as a result of the unequal terms of trade.

In addition, the rich countries spend every year 300 billion USD on subsidies that prevent the poor countries' access to their markets.

[Source of link courtesy Bob Piper]

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 6/17/2004
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