Major calls for UN to put its house in order

Bangkok summit: EU states duck rights issues to avoid a damaging rift with world's strongest economies

DONALD MACINTYRE

Bangkok

John Major made a plea for rapid reform in the United Nations yesterday at the EU-Asia economic summit, as most European leaders agreed to avoid confrontation with China and South-East- Asian economic powers over human rights.

Mr Major pressed the case for streamlining the UN and putting it on a firm financial footing following estimates that it could "run out of money in November". The Prime Minister said it would be "ludicrous" for the UN to go bust and warned it "must not be allowed to grind to a halt".

He urged Asian countries to back EU proposals for tough penalties on non-payers, to accelerate the payment of arrears and reform contributions to take account of the relative wealth of members.

Mr Major, who won strong support from Thailand for his call for UN reforms, will today call for the liberalisation of Asian markets.

The threat of a walk-out by Indonesia, led by President Suharto, if Portugal used the summit to resume attacks on human rights abuses in East Timor was averted when the Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Guterres, talked informally to the Mr Suharto in the fringes of the summit. The Portuguese leader suggested a resumption of diplomatic contacts between the two countries, which elicited a non-committal response from Mr Suharto.

The Europeans' desire to avoid conflict over human rights reflects the importance attached by the EU to expanding trade relations with the fastest growing economies in the world. Mr Major has repeatedly pointed out that the countries at the summit account for more than half the world's Gross Domestic Product.

Jacques Santer, the EU Commission President, made a plea for Asian countries to accept that the Single European Market "has greatly improved the opportunities for third countries to do business in the European Union".

In a thinly disguised appeal to Asian countries to lower barriers against EU exports, he pointed out that 40 per cent of imports of manufactured goods would be duty-free, while tariffs on other products would be cut by a third in the next decade.

Leon Brittan, the EU Trade Commissioner, has been active pressing Asian countries to open up their vast telecommunications markets, to secure a worldwide liberalisation agreement by the April deadline set by the World Trade Organisation. An aide to Sir Leon admitted they failed to draw a clear response and added: "We are into the last five weeks so it is a very urgent process."

In meetings with the Chinese government, Sir Leon pressed for the level of liberalisation that would enable China to qualify for WTO membership. Sir Leon told the Prime Minister, Li Peng, that China needed to end the monopoly of state organisations running import and export businesses, reduce tariffs and liberalise the car industry. He said if Peking took such steps the EU would back its membership of WTO.

Sir Leon urged Peking to stop restricting the free flow of economic information through overseas news agencies, saying it violated the WTO principles.

He also pressed Li Peng to accept Hong Kong's continued importance as an entrepreneurial centre, and was assured its "capitalism" would survive the handover to China.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star