Developing countries agree on tariff-cut deal

GENEVA, December 2, 2009 (AFP) – Twenty-two developing and poor countries including emerging giants India and Brazil, on Wednesday agreed on a deal on cutting tariffs on the sidelines of a World Trade Organization meeting. “This is a very important step in south-south cooperation,” said Jorge Taiana, Argentinian Foreign Minister, who chaired the group.

Under the deal, the countries agreed on cutting tariffs by at least 20 percent on 70 percent of all products.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development’s chief Supachai Panitchpakdi estimated that the tariff cut would bring “at least 8 billion dollars more trade for these countries.”

The deal would affect only trade among the 22 and is not connected to the broader Doha round of negotiations that aim for a global reduction in trade barriers.

Taiana noted that the deal also shows that “developing countries have the will and capability to reach an agreement” and that the stalemate at the Doha Round of negotiations was “not a problem on our side.”

Countries participating in the agreement include Algeria, Chile, Cuba, Egypt, India, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, MERCOSUR (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), Morocco, Nigeria, North Korea, P