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WTO chief: Doha failure would damage trade system

WTO chief: Doha failure would damage trade system

The trade system built up over decades to ensure goods worth billions of dollars can circulate freely around the planet would suffer if governments fail to agree a new global commerce deal, the head of the World Trade Organizations said Thursday.
The warning by WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy came as ministers from some 25 countries prepared to meet on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum to discuss the Doha round of trade talks that have been ongoing for 10 years.
"If we were to fail in these negotiations the system as a whole would certainly be damaged," Lamy told a panel at the annual meeting of business and political leaders in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.
Earlier, the Frenchman told reporters he will be pushing top trade officials later this week to commit to accelerating the Doha talks so agreement on key issues can be reached by Easter. That would allow the talks to be finalized this year, he said.
Crucial to the talks' success will be whether the United States and China can resolve their differences over sensitive sectors and so tear down some of the barriers remaining between the world's two biggest trading partners.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk is expected to meet with China's Commerce Minister Chen Deming in Davos, ahead of the larger confab that will also include EU trade chief Karel De Gucht and some two dozen other key ministers.
Chen, speaking on the same panel as Lamy, said Beijing had paid "very dearly" for its entry ticket to the World Trade Organization ten years ago.
Since 2001, China's exports and important have grown almost fivefold, gross domestic product has doubled and average income has increased from $800 to $2,500, he said.
"It's clear to us that we made the right choice to join," Chen said.
But he expressed concern about the high price China is expected to pay to clinch the Doha deal, citing in particular the agriculture sector, which still employs hundreds of millions of Chinese even as the planet's second biggest economy has become the factory of the world.
"The last 20 percent of the negotiations will be tough for many countries, including China," said Chen.
Former WTO chief Peter Sutherland, moderating the panel, urged countries to overcome their hesitations and complete the final lap of the Doha round, which some say could add billions of dollars to the world economy.
"The Doha round is fundamentally important for the multilateral trading system," he said.


Updated : 2021-02-27 21:23 GMT+08:00