The head of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy, Monday told a Washington audience there needs to be progress by mid-June if the long-stalled trade liberalization talks are to move forward. VOA's Barry Wood has more.
Lamy says a sense of urgency is needed if the long-stalled Doha Round of talks to expand trade are to succeed. The talks were launched in 2001 and were to have been concluded four years later. Successive deadlines have come and gone with governments deeply divided over agricultural subsidies in rich countries and market access in developing countries.
Recently, four big trading players -- the United States, the European Union, Brazil and India -- met informally and agreed that the talks should be resumed. Lamy says a deal among the 150 World Trade Organization members is possible, but only if considerable work is done very quickly. "There is no very little precious time to waste. We now need to see serious, substantive engagement by all WTO members in the multilateral process in Geneva under the guidance of the negotiating group chairs," he said.
Speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Lamy expressed disappointment with progress over the past year.
Trade advocates worry that the failure of the Doha round would lead to a resurgence of protectionism, particularly in the United States. U.S. Congress is under the control of the Democrats, traditionally less supportive of free trade than President Bush's Republicans.
There is mounting frustration within both parties about China's refusal to revalue its currency despite a huge and growing trade surplus. Legislative measures to limit Chinese sales in the U.S. market are being prepared.