Saudi minister lets fly at WTO

06 September 2002

Commerce Minister Osama al-Faqih lambasted the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on 3 September, saying the organisation had betrayed the trust of developing countries. 'The WTO has not been able to fulfil the aspirations of developing nations,' he said in a speech at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg. 'This has led to a growing feeling of injustice among these countries, raising strong doubts about the fairness of the multilateral trading system.'

In addition, Al-Faqih blamed richer countries for setting up trade barriers and tax policies that were inconsistent with their obligations under the framework of the WTO. Such measures deliberately discriminated against developing energy producers like Saudi Arabia. 'These policies negatively affect the opportunities of achieving sustainable development in our countries, while industrial nations provide excessive subsidies and incentives to coal and nuclear energy, in which we find no logical or scientific justifications,' he said.

The Saudi government has been in formal negotiations over possible accession to the WTO since 1993, but has repeatedly expressed reservations about the process. The other regional members seeking accession are Algeria, Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen.

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