The World Trade Organization says the global economic troubles make it
more important than ever to successfully conclude the Doha Development
Round of trade negotiations. The WTO says a free-trade agreement is
possible by the end of next year.
Meetings to revive the
failed Doha Round are gathering steam here in Geneva. The World Trade
Organization says it has received renewed political commitments from
heads of state and trade ministers to conclude an agreement by the end
WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy says the months
ahead will be a busy period for the organization's 153 member states to
press ahead with the Doha negotiations and to move them to a speedy
"We all know this crisis is unprecedented in its
width, in its depth, in its global impact," he said. "We must act
collectively to send the right signals and establish an appropriate
trading environment for a sustainable recovery for all."
the Doha Round collapsed three years ago, world trade was buoyant and
it appeared as if the good economic times would continue. The story
now is very different. WTO economists predict world trade will shrink
by 10 percent this year - something which has not happened since World
WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell tells VOA it is
increasingly recognized that trade has been a victim of the economic
crisis. He also says trade will be an important tool for lifting the
world out of the current situation.
"Through the market opening
that will come through this round, this will be in effect a global tax
cut of about $150 billion. These kinds of things can be important
stimulus of the economic recovery," he said.
people, by in large, have resisted taking high intensity protectionist
measures, because they are aware that trade is contracting and such
measures would hurt the economy and hamper the recovery.
that, there is a lot of pressure in almost every country - domestic
pressure for more protectionism. Now, one way to keep trade open is to
keep opening trade and that is what the Doha Round would do. What we
need to do now is to translate this very strong show of political
support into action at the negotiating table here in Geneva," he said.
negotiations will not be easy. The problems that scuttled the last
agreement are complex and remain to be resolved. Major disagreements
about access to each other's markets continue to divide the rich
nations from the poor ones.