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World Bank nominee Zoellick hopes to work with WTO for global trade deal

World Bank nominee Zoellick hopes to work with WTO for global trade deal

The United States' choice to head the World Bank said Tuesday that he thinks a global trade deal is still possible and he would like to work with the World Trade Organization to help salvage the talks.
Robert Zoellick, a former U.S. trade representative, met with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner as part of an international tour through Africa, Europe and Latin America aimed at repairing relations strained during Paul Wolfowitz's tenure.
"I think a deal is possible and I think a deal is important," Zoellick said of the stalled trade talks. "I would be pleased to try to work with the WTO and member states to see how we can make the aid for trade connection."
Zoellick was tapped by U.S President George W. Bush to succeed Wolfowitz, who will step down June 30 after a scandal over the hefty pay raise he arranged for his girlfriend, who is a bank employee.
Zoellick said he will seek to "calm the waters in the institution that have been roiled" during the scandal so the bank's staff can focus on tackling poverty and corruption in the developing world.
He said the bank will address a range of issues including education and health care _ particularly in Africa, which he visited last week. He said the aid for trade question "came up a lot" there.
"It's not only a question of opening markets but it's a question of having the development programs that allow countries to take advantage of open markets," Zoellick told journalists outside the French foreign ministry. "If you don't have roads to be able to bring goods to port and you don't have ports that work, you don't get the full benefit of trade."
Zoellick called WTO head Pascal Lamy "a close friend and associate." The two became acquainted when Zoellick was the U.S. trade representative and Lamy was European Union trade commissioner.
The trade talks known as the Doha round have stalled since their inception in 2001 largely because of wrangling between rich and poor countries over eliminating barriers to agricultural trade. Critics of the subsidies say they unfairly deflate international prices, making it impossible for poorer nations to develop their economies by selling their farm goods abroad.
Having already missed numerous deadlines, negotiators are now aiming to wrap up by the end of the year a trade treaty intended to add billions of dollars to the world economy and lift millions of people out of poverty. Brazil and India, which co-lead the WTO's emerging economies bloc, meet next week with the U.S. and the EU in Potsdam, Germany, for talks that have been described as crucial for the six-year-old talks.
Zoellick sidestepped questions about the World Bank tradition that its president is an American, saying he is focusing on his own candidacy.
Nominated by Bush on May 30, Zoellick must be approved by the World Bank's 24-member board before Wolfowitz steps down.
Zoellick met Monday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and is to head to Brussels following meetings later Tuesday with French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and Finance Minister Jean-Louis Borloo.