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World Bank Head Urges On Doha

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

19 July 2011

World Trade Organization (WTO) members must be bolder in their approach to the Doha Round, "thinking ahead and thinking big", according to the president of the World Bank.

Speaking to the WTO in Geneva on July 18, Robert B. Zoellick said the Doha Round was facing a “deeply disappointing” fate. Were negotiators to fail in securing a successful conclusion to the Round, the consequence could be a missed opportunity for a global growth strategy when the world sorely needed one, Zoellick stressed.

He argued that the trade talks could provide a significant boost to the troubled global economy, but noted that the deal now being considered was much smaller than that originally envisaged and this was a loss to developed and developing countries alike. Zoellick said: "Dumbing down Doha is defeatist. A mini-deal won’t do much for global growth, which is my primary concern.”

Zoellick also emphasized the urgency of the situation, and criticized the attitude and tactics of some negotiators. He said: “I won’t sugarcoat it. Negotiators from key countries – developed and developing – let themselves fold into defensive crouches. Tactical ploys overwhelmed strategic vision and leadership. Some want to declare Doha dead. Instead, I urge the WTO members to get bolder: Double down on Doha. And do so by thinking ahead, and thinking big.”

Bold action is therefore required, in Zoellick's opinion. “I urge the WTO – all of its members – to think big again. Otherwise, as I warned in 2003, after the breakdown in Cancun, the trade agenda will switch elsewhere. The world is speeding up, not slowing down. So must we.”

The Doha Round aims to effect a change in worldwide trade barriers by seeking to cut trade-distorting agriculture subsidies, phase out tariffs on industrial goods, open trade in services, facilitate customs operations, open trade in clean technology, adjust anti-dumping rules, and offer duty free and quota free access to the exports of the world's poorest countries. According to the European Commission, an agreement could add USD167bn to global output, and increase exports by USD383bn on an annual basis after the full implementation period in 2026. Zoellick was among the ministers who helped launch the Doha Development Agenda in the WTO in 2001 and who completed the framework accord for opening markets in 2004.

A WTO ministerial conference is scheduled for December, which is considered as a key milestone for measuring the progress of Doha by the Organisation's head, Pascal Lamy.

TAGS: economics | business | free trade agreement (FTA) | tariffs | anti-dumping | World Trade Organisation (WTO) | trade treaty | agreements | trade | services

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