World looks to US to conclude trade talks: WTO chief


The Economic Times (India)
April 25, 2009

WASHINGTON: The re-launch of multilateral trade negotiations that has the potential to lift the recession-hit global economy when successful, is
not possible till the US shows willingness, the chief of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has said.

"I cannot restart a political process without the US being ready," WTO Director Pascal Lamy said during a lecture at the Peterson Institute for International Economics here Friday evening.

"We need a successful Doha Development Round, to restore confidence in a moment of crisis and reinforce the stability and predictability of the global trading system. The Doha Round is simply the lowest hanging global stimulus package."

Lamy said the it was in USA’s interest to conclude the global pact, bring down barriers to trade and access open markets in other nations, being the world’s leading exporter of goods and services with one of the lowest tariff barriers.

He said many of the 153 member countries of the WTO were keen on the conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda, as the talks are officially called, that was launched some eight years ago in the Qatari capital.

"Since the beginning of this current crisis, I have been concerned about a surge in protectionism," said Lamy, echoing the sentiments expressed by countries like India that want rich nations to desist from imposing non-trade barriers.

"As important as it is to keep trade open, we must also keep opening trade. A successful Doha Round would show that even in the midst of a global economic crisis, nations can successfully cooperate to reach global solutions."

He said while the logic of such arguments were compelling, there were the doubting Thomases who were sceptical about the political viability of US support for the Doha Round, pointing out that a recalcitrant Congress may actually wield the balance of power on its trade policy.

"We owe the post World War II vision of an open, non-discriminatory international trading system to the United States. Historically, it has played a leadership role in previous rounds of multilateral trade negotiations," he said.

"The world now needs a committed US to strengthen the multilateral trading system – a US once more willing to make history."

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