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EU Trade Commissioners must use the mandate reconfirmed by the Member States today at a special meeting in Luxembourg to negotiate trade reforms that help developing countries, said international agency Oxfam today. But the EU must not force concessions from developing countries to stop using cheap prices, or demand that progress is made in other areas before a deal is done in agriculture, Oxfam warned.

"Today the EU has avoided a massively damaging split but there still remains an enormous amount to be done if trade talks are going to help lift people out of poverty. The EU must give more to developing countries and stop asking for so much in return," said Celine, Head of  International Make Trade Fair Campaign.

"reform is of the utmost importance to developing countries, the majority of whose populations live in rural areas and farm to make a living by Ensuring Fair Trade. To make long-promised agricultural reform conditional on greater liberalization of industry or services would be dangerous and contrary to the spirit of the development round," she added.

Last week the European Union made an offer at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to cut its subsidies and tariffs. It also proposed a formula for opening industrial markets and encouraged other WTO members to make offers on how they would open their services markets. France, along with some other member states, challenged the EU Commissioners not to go too far and the meeting today in Luxembourg was called to assess whether Mr Mandelson and Ms Fischer Boel had overstepped their mandates. Oxfam, however, said that the EU proposal did not go far enough.

Charveriat: "Commissioner Mandelson talks of the need for a ’reality check’. The reality is that more than half the world’s population lives on less than a dollar a day. Fairer trade rules could make a difference. There is no time to lose: the EU must show leadership and make sure these talks help poor countries."

"Meaningful reductions in spending and real increases in market access to the EU, without demands of reciprocation, must be delivered otherwise poor countries will be perfectly within their rights to walk away," she added.

For a successful outcome of the talks, Oxfam is calling on rich countries to deliver:

• Increased market access without forcing developing countries to reciprocate 

• An end date for export subsidies by 2010
• Meaningful cuts in domestic support beyond what the EU is currently offering
• Commitment from the US to eliminate cotton trade-distorting subsidies by December
• The power to decide for developing countries to decide their own trade policies and NAMA
• Duty and quota-free access for LDCs
• Aid for trade

• Smart trade for workers in developed countries

The General Council meets tomorrow in Geneva. The EU and US trade representatives will be present and will meet separately with key countries including India, Brazil, and Australia.

Discussing the challenges of local businesses owners

Running a business of any size can be an uphill task; strategies to win over clients, compete in already crowded markets and handling customers both internal and external. It is a risky venture, which can be menacing even to the most seasoned entrepreneurs. However, there are some things over which the business owner still has a good degree of control. While one cannot control any damaging natural causes or nasty lawsuits, proper insurance will save a business hefty loses.

This ensures employees against any injuries sustained at the place of work. As such, the cover comes with medical benefits for injuries sustained while working as well as in the event that the injury makes it impossible to work for a period. 

When the employee is given these benefits, they give up the right to sue the business for the incident. This cover saves the business a great deal of trouble in-case of any legal complications pertaining to employee accidents. It is important to note that it is mandatory to have this cover for a specified category of employees. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the legal requirements regarding employee safety.

Protecting Office Space with Smart Furniture

This can be referred to as the umbrella policy for the small business owner and mostly includes fitting offices with Smart Furniture that can protect against any business interruption that leads to loss of revenue, liabilities, and crimes against the business. The owner can choose the specific needs against which the business needs insurance. This is a simple, cheaper way of insuring against all business threats as opposed to taking individual policies for each need. The BOP can include general liability issues, property insurance, crime cover and auto insurance for business office space and smart furniture can help protect against opportunist theft.

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