XIANGHE, China, Oct 15 (Agencies): World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz Saturday warned that poor countries will suffer most if efforts to free up global trade fail.
Wolfowitz called on rich countries today to make painful concessions in world trade talks to help lift 1.2 billion people around the world out of abject poverty.
Wolfowitz said the talks would fail unless all countries gave ground to reach an outline deal at a meeting in Hong Kong in December of the 148 member nations of the World Trade Organisation.
The negotiations, which began in 2001, have been stalled by disagreements between rich and poor countries, mainly over how quickly developed states should cut support they give their farmers, which Wolfowitz said is worth $260 billion a year.
"It's not an exaggeration to say that 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty need a result from Hong Kong," Wolfowitz told reporters during a break in weekend talks among finance ministers from 20 rich and developing countries.
Without greater access to Western markets for their produce, many poor countries would remain dependent forever on aid. Wolfowitz said this was not a solution.
"These are difficult issues and it may be uncomfortable for many here to step forward and give up subsidies and other barriers to free trade.
"But that temporary discomfort is as nothing compared to the daily discomfort and deprivation of the poorest people of the world. They are counting on us. We must deliver results for them," he said.