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Concluding Doha Should Be Paramount In 2009, Says Lamy

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

23 December 2008


World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy told the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) on December 17 that concluding the Doha round of trade negotiations should remain the focus for trade ministers in 2009.

Lamy proposed an immediate resumption of work across all negotiating groups in the new year, as well as “on the wider WTO front”, in areas such as monitoring trade measures taken in relation to the financial crisis, trade finance and Aid for Trade.

"From the discussion we had on November 12 at our informal Heads of Delegation meeting on the impact of the global financial crisis, the importance all members attach to resisting calls for protectionist measures and to countering financial chaos by further organized, regulated and balanced trade opening through the Doha round was very clear," Lamy said in his statement to the TNC, adding:

"This was further amplified in the Declaration by the leaders of the G20 when they met at their summit on the world economy and financial markets in Washington on November 15. The leaders underscored the critical importance of rejecting protectionism and not turning inward in times of financial uncertainty, and committed themselves to striving to reach agreement this year on modalities."

The Doha talks collapsed at the end of July 2008, with ministers attending trade talks in Geneva failing in their efforts to agree on blueprint agreements in agriculture and industrial products.

"We need to face reality and act in a way which is consistent with the responsibility we all share for the well-being of the multilateral trading system," Lamy further remarked in his TN statement.

"Looking ahead, our aims should not change. I do not believe that either the political will to preserve the achievements so far or even the necessity to do so will go away, even more so with the continuing deterioration of the economic situation. On the contrary, it will also become more and more important to reaffirm and defend the basic values of the multilateral trading system and to respect not only the letter but also the spirit of the rules," he added, before going on to conclude:

"In sum, while the year may end in disappointment, we should now gather ourselves and work in 2009 to demonstrate that the WTO remains as necessary and credible as ever. The world trading system needs the Doha Round to better respond to the needs and aspirations of its members. Concluding the round should remain our focus in 2009. But this endeavour takes place within a more global portfolio of WTO activities in which we need to keep investing. This task starts today."


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