World trade to rise up to 10 percent: WTO

World trade to rise up to 10 percent: WTO article image
World Trade Organisation chief Pascal Lamy has forecast a rise for world trade of around 9.5 percent this year, following last year’s slump of 12 percent. The WTO director-general is adamant that WTO members are unwilling to "turn their backs on policies that helped integrate them into the world economy", but called on the USA and China to lead the way in overcoming stalemates over issues including agriculture and tariffs. Speaking at an economic forum in Bahrain on Sunday, Lamy told his audience that "the Doha Round, at this moment of the crisis exiting, is a vitally needed and, to be frank, a very low cost global economic stimulus package". The director-general accused the US delegates of trying to finish these negotiations on their own terms, demanding even more US concessions than are already on the table. He called on US President Barack Obama to intervene in congress to limit the impact of competing congressional interests on the Doha talks. The WTO Doha Round of talks began in 2001, focusing on reducing barriers to trade among developing nations. However, the talks have repeatedly stalled, with the USA and the European Union unwilling to reduce subsidies to their farmers; and developing countries, led by India and China, unwilling to lower trading tariffs. The Doha Round was due to conclude in March, following a pledge by G20 member nations last year to complete negotiations, however, despite international efforts, negotiations appear to have once again reached an impasse. Failure to conclude this round favourably could cost the recovering global economy US$300-400 billion, Lamy warned. In his report the the General Council of the WTO in early May, Lamy proposed a "cocktail approach" to solving the current stalemate in the Doha round. The ingredients in the cocktail solution included a personal consultation for each delegation with the director general, meetings between chairs of different negotiating groups and preliminary contacts between trade ministers to kickstart proceedings. Lamy summarised: "We have the blender, we know which are the ingredients, it is just about time we start shaking them to be able to serve the cocktail before the ice melts!" In his view, a favourable end to the proceedings would see EU and US agricultural subsidies slashed by 80 percent to improve the access of developing nations to European markets.


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