Ministers call for successful end to Doha Round
GENEVA -- A successful end to the Doha Round of trade negotiations, which have stalled for over a year, would help pull the world out of its economic crisis, trade ministers said as they began a ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization...
GENEVA -- A successful end to the Doha Round of trade negotiations, which have stalled for over a year, would help pull the world out of its economic crisis, trade ministers said as they began a ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization in Geneva on Monday.
"The single largest adjustment we need to make is to conclude the Doha Round successfully and soon," WTO Director General Pascal Lamy said at the beginning of the ministerial conference, the trade body's highest decision-making organ.
Members of the organization usually meet every other year to review WTO activities. The gathering has not formally taken place since December 2005, when members instead decided to focus on the Doha Round of trade liberalization talks.
The round's objectives include lowering tariffs and subsidies for agricultural products, improving market access for manufactured goods and increasing trade in services.
But sharp disagreements between industrialized and developing countries on one side and between agricultural exporters and importers have marred the negotiations since the beginning.
"The global economy needs the WTO members to deliver a strong outcome to the Doha Round of negotiations, and that is one that opens markets and creates significant new trade opportunities in agriculture, industrial goods and in services, generating global economic growth and development," U.S. Trade Representative Ronald Kirk said.
While work programs and stocktaking are useful, "we cannot confuse process and substance," he said. "There is simply no substitute for the hard work of negotiations."
Members, however, expressed concern that the 2010 deadline for concluding the talks would not be met.
"My assessment is that we are progressing too slowly to meet the 2010 objective, and that is cause for concern," European Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton said.
"We are in the midst of a crisis -- a crisis of paralysis," Brazilian Minister of External Relations Celso Amorim said.
Emerging economic powerhouses Brazil and India said that a step forward must include concessions from the developed world and a commitment for economic development.
"The development objectives of the round cannot be diluted or ignored. Putting development back on the agenda will encourage developing countries to bring more to the negotiating table," Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma said.
However, both countries, along with China, emphasized that the negotiations must move forward.
"With seven years' effort, what is on the table is hard won, and cannot be overturned for any excuse," Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said.