Financial Times (UK)
By George Parker and Guy Dinmore in L’Aquila
June 9, 2009

www.ft.com

The world’s biggest economies agreed on Thursday to conclude a comprehensive trade deal in 2010, in the latest attempt to revive the stalled Doha round and give a shot in the arm to the world economy.

Rich countries gathered for the G8 summit agreed with ten other large economies – including India, China and Brazil – that trade talks must resume urgently, with a deadline set for completion next year.

The agreement in the Italian town of L’Aquila will be hailed by world leaders as a decisive moment in reviving the global economy and a statement of intent to conclude a trade round which began in Doha in 2001.

But there will be widespread cynicism over whether such commitments are credible. Every G8 summit – not to mention other international summits – ends with leaders paying lip service to finalising a trade round.

The approval of the L’Aquila agreement by Barack Obama, US president, may be seen as a signal of intent that he intends to give the Doha process a renewed push in the face of Congressional opposition.

There are also hopes that India may now be ready to come back to the table, following the completion of elections.

The L’Aquila agreement paves the way for a reassessment of progress at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, to be chaired by Mr Obama, who will come under international pressure if the US is seen to be intransigent.

“We may have a better discussion in Pittsburgh,” said one British diplomat.

The summit communiqué was agreed by the G8 countries – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan Russia, US – along with Egypt and the so-called G5: Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.

They also committed themselves to oppose protectionism and protect free markets.

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