WTO chief calls for agreement at global trade talks

July 15th, 2008 - 10:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Geneva, July 15 (DPA) The head of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Pascal Lamy, called on ministers Tuesday to reach a deal at a crucial round of negotiations on global trade in Geneva. “What members achieve together next week will be judged as an indicator of the international community’s willingness and ability to share in the management of globalization in an effective and equitable manner,” he said.

“Globalization will not come to a halt,” the WTO director-general said in launching his organization’s World Trade Report 2008.

“It is driven by technological advance as much as by broader political changes, economic policies and evolving business practices,” he said a week before 30 of the world’s leading trading nations meet.

Lamy cited recent surveys on globalization in almost 50 developing and developed countries which show that large majorities of people continue to believe that international trade benefits their countries.

“But accompanying this belief are fears about the disruptions and downsides of participating in the global economy, be it job loss, inequality or increased marginalisation,” he said.

The report said that in some countries specialisation in agriculture and industry had lead to increased income. Both consumers and producers have benefited from a wider choice of products at lower prices, it said.

But other countries have not shared as much in these gains as a result of trade costs such as tariffs, non-tariff barriers, transportation, communication and insurance, it added.

At the week-long Geneva talks beginning July 21, ministers will be seeking to to reach an agreement on the Doha Round, which is designed to liberalize global trade by removing barriers.

Negotiations have been dragging on since the round was launched in Qatar capital in November 2001, amid disputes over subsidies to farmers by the US and the European Union (EU) and tariffs on industrial goods imposed by the developing economies of Asia and Latin America.

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson warned Tuesday that the 27 EU countries, including France, must show unity if the Geneva talks are to succeed and not torpedo other issues.

“If, after seven years, you cannot complete a trade round, what does that say for your prospects of reaching a deal on climate change?” he told the French daily Le Figaro.

Mandelson is negotiating on behalf of the EU at the trade talks. French President Nicolas Sarkozy recently accused him of preparing to make any concessions that could put the bloc’s agricultural sector at risk.

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