Minister of State Tom Kitt visits Central America before WTO Meeting
The Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights will arrive in Cancún, Mexico today to participate in the 5th WTO Ministerial Conference. Together with Ministers Joe Walsh and Michael Ahern he will represent the Irish Government at this crucial summit which aims to accelerate progress towards a new global trade agreement.
Minister Kitt has just completed a visit to Honduras where he inspected the work being done by Irish NGOs and APSO and familiarised himself with the development challenges faced by the people of Honduras and more generally in the Central American region.
Funded by Development Cooperation Ireland; Trocaire, Goal and APSO are engaged in wide range of activities designed to reduce poverty and in particular help Honduras recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
The Minister visited projects which included: the construction of houses and schools for poor rural communities, HIV/AIDS care and treatment, and local employment schemes. In addition the Minister learned at first hand of the problems faced by Honduran coffee growers, problems which are extenuated by the global trade inequalities which the WTO meeting will be addressing;
“ It is of critical importance”, the Minister commented, “that an outcome is achieved at Cancún that gives developing countries a fair deal and improves their access to global trade.”
“The WTO Summit must help bridge the ever widening gap between rich and poor. It must provide a basis on which the world's poorest countries can lift themselves out of poverty through increased participation in global trade. I will go further than this and say categorically that Cancún cannot be regarded as a success, no matter what else might be achieved in other areas, if there is not a satisfactory outcome for the poorest people in developing countries.”