Coldplay and the WTO

Originally posted on September 09, 2003 10:41 PM

In sweltering heat on the shores of an azure sea, British rock band Coldplay on Tuesday asked trade negotiators to keep in mind the needs of poor nations as they hammer out a global trade pact.

Lead singer Chris Martin and guitarist Jon Buckland gave World Trade Organization chief Supachai Panitchpakdi a petition with 3.5 million signatures that demanded poor countries be given a better deal from global commerce.

"We're here to meet this important dude, a very powerful man," Martin told reporters before his talks with Supachai. "We would like to raise awareness of the need to have fair trade around the world."

Earlier, the duo stood on the beach at a Mexican resort and raised four green plastic blocks to spell out the word HOPE. Martin said the sign meant "people are hoping that things will change."

The five-day meeting of trade ministers from the 146 member states of the World Trade Organization in Cancun, Mexico, is designed to inject new life into struggling trade negotiations.

The aim of this so-called Doha Round of talks is to lower import tariffs on all sorts of goods and reduce the subsidies the European Union and the United States give their farmers. Another goal is to open markets, especially to the world's poor and developing countries.

Tens of thousands of protesters in Cancun are among those who believe the trade talks will fail to achieve these goals and might even hurt poor countries.

Martin said wealthy nations that subsidize their farmers and prevent imports from developing nations from entering their markets drive poor nations further into poverty.

"Trade, war and a lack of education are the biggest causes of poverty in the world. If we can sort out one of them it would be good," Martin said.

Source: Reuters

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