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WTO Chief Says Real Action Needed to Conclude Doha Agenda

World Trade Organization chief Supachai Panitchpakdi says all WTO nations need to pull together in the coming months, if the ambitious economic blueprint known as the Doha Development Agenda is to succeed.

Supachai Panitchpakdi says most WTO nations have indicated that they want to complete the so-called Doha round of trade talks by 2006.

But the director general of the World Trade Organization says finalizing the negotiations requires a consensus of the 148 member nations. And that, he says, means they must work hard over the next several months to finalize details of the wide-ranging agreement.

"This means there will be no deal until there is agreement on the whole negotiating package, because there are linkages between different subject areas," he said. "The 2006 deadline is feasible, I am confident, is still feasible. But it will require major advances in technical discussions and strong political determination."

Mr. Supachai spoke at the Pacific Basin Economic Council in Hong Kong on Monday. He stressed the need to strengthen trade negotiations at next December's WTO ministerial conference, which will be held in Hong Kong.

The World Bank estimates that the Doha agenda, drafted in 2001, could boost global economic output by $500 billion a year.

The WTO chief emphasized that all trade officials must build political support for an agreement in their home countries before coming to the Hong Kong conference. Mr. Supachai also urged all members to work out most issues ahead of time at the WTO headquarters in Geneva.

"We need political commitments that are in terms of actions, not just lip service. We heard a lot of lip service around the world. Now, to make Hong Kong successful, we need real action. We need to move our positions in Geneva before we even think of coming to Hong Kong to decide on the deal," he said.

Mr. Supachai highlighted key areas of interest for developing countries in the Doha round of talks. Those include better market access for weaker economies, technical assistance in implementing WTO agreements, and improved rules in areas such as moving trade to and from landlocked countries.