News / Economy

World Bank Chief Calls Open Trade Best Economic Stimulant

World Bank President Robert Zoellick reacts during a meeting with Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff [not in picture] at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, June 2, 2011 (file photo)
World Bank President Robert Zoellick reacts during a meeting with Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff [not in picture] at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, June 2, 2011 (file photo)
Lisa Schlein

World Bank President Robert Zoellick is urging the United States to take the lead in pushing the moribund Doha-round free-trade talks forward. He said open trade is the best way to help the struggling global economy. Zoellick delivered his blunt assessment at a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva on Monday.  

Zoellick said practically everybody in the world is in dire economic straits. He noted Europe is struggling with the eurozone. The United States is bogged down with debt and deficits, and is in desperate need of a growth strategy. He said Japan is coming out of a nuclear disaster and is struggling with low growth.

“So, it seems to me that in addition to the work on sovereign debt and deficits, the world needs a global growth strategy," said Zoellick.  "And, opening trade drives growth. It is the best driver of structural forms that the world has seen. We have seen it with proven effectiveness all throughout the past 60 or 70 years. So, why not revive Doha?”  

That is a question more easily asked than answered. Zoellick has invested a lot of his time and his capital as a trade negotiator in Doha. He helped launch the Doha Round of free-trade talks in 2001, and remains deeply disappointed that 10 years later an agreement remains elusive.  

Agriculture continues to be the main stumbling block to a deal. The developing countries are demanding the United States and European Union cut their farm subsidies. But the United States and European Union are calling on developing countries and emerging economies, such as India and Brazil, to open their markets to industrial goods and to grant greater access to services.

Since these conflicting demands appear unsolvable, Doha negotiators are discussing a potential smaller package of trade concessions, but no consensus has been reached on what is to be included in that package.

Zoellick is no fan of this “mini-deal,” which he said will be as hard to achieve as the big deal. He called it the dumbing down of the Doha round.

"So, I urge a turnaround. Now, I certainly understand that this requires leadership and it has to come from the major developed countries, as well as the emerging market countries," he said. "That is a different world than it was 15 or 20 years ago. And, obviously, the U.S., as the world’s largest economy, is a good candidate. Why not? The U.S. is going to be cutting agricultural subsidies as part of its budget deal.  There was just an agreement in the U.S. Congress to cut not only the ethanol tariff, but the ethanol subsidy.”  

Zoellick called this a serious moment. He warned that the failure of the major trading nations to talk about lowering global trade barriers is putting economic growth at risk, particularly for the poorest countries.  

He said it would be a huge mistake for countries to allow the Doha round to die. He also said that at a time when the world desperately needs a pro-growth strategy - closing down, rather than opening up markets - would be the worst possible thing to do.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8982
JPY
USD
121.07
GBP
USD
0.6376
CAD
USD
1.2215
INR
USD
63.612

Rates may not be current.