Rich nations must concentrate more on alleviating poverty in the developing world to combat the spread of terrorism, according to former Philippines president Fidel Ramos. 'We must address the grass-roots reasons for the proliferation of radicals and extremists,' Mr Ramos said. 'The breeding ground of these people is there in the poorest countries.' The gaps between rich and poor countries in terms of wealth and opportunities must be reduced which would remove many of the causes of terrorism and insurgency around the world, according to Mr Ramos. 'We must also concentrate on the deeper problems of poverty, of the income gap, the digital gap, the education gap, the health gap, the opportunity gap and the North-South gap,' he said. 'Unless we do that - bridging the gaps - then the decline of the quality of life all around the world will persist.' The issue of combating international terrorism was highlighted by the September 11 attacks in the United States and the recent incidents of anthrax spores being delivered to media organisations and political institutions. Developed countries have not done enough to alleviate global poverty by dragging their feet on trade liberalisation and continuing to provide assistance to domestic production including agriculture. 'Seven years after the end of the Uruguay Round [of trade negotiations] in 1994 when we entered into the [World Trade Organisation] agreement we are still seeing farm subsidies, tax breaks and all kinds of uneven . . . tactics,' Mr Ramos said. 'How can poor farmers from East Asia - especially from the developing countries - compete with farmers from the [European Union] and the US that enjoy these subsidies?' Poorer countries should have greater access to technology that could improve their living standards. Technology that prevents endemic diseases and improves agricultural production among other areas should be transferred 'without delay' to poor countries at an affordable price, according to Mr Ramos. He was in Hong Kong this week to speak at The CEO Forum organised by Business Week magazine.