New Delhi: The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) director general Pascal Lamy on Monday said nations need to show leadership, pragmatism and determination to break the deadlock over the Doha Round of trade talks.
Lamy arrived in India, after touring China, for a two-day visit to inaugurate the three-month WTO regional trade policy course (RTPC) for the Asia-Pacific region. He later met commerce minister Anand Sharma to discuss the future of WTO and the Doha Round of negotiations.
Lamy said India was a good example of how trade can be used to generate growth, create employment and reduce poverty. “This was the very essence of the process of trade opening and structural reform initiated in the early 1990s. As a result, India’s economy was among the first in the world to recover after the recent global financial crisis.”
Lamy said it was time to speak up for a multilateral trading system when everybody is talking about a crisis in multilateralism.
“We cannot give up just because the slope is too steep, because it takes too long or because the headlines are negative; we need determination because WTO negotiations are a collective enterprise of 153 members building for the long-term,” he said.
Lamy said he hopes WTO member countries will be able to “chart a path forward” at the upcoming WTO ministerial conference, scheduled to take place in December at Geneva.
The Doha Round aims to lower trade barriers for developing and least developed countries (LDCs). Started in 2001, the negotiations are yet to be concluded because of differences over level of tariff reduction between developing countries such as India and China and developed nations.
Commerce minister Sharma said the Doha Round needs to be completed as a single undertaking, keeping the developmental dimension of the Round intact. “Developing countries are being called upon to pay an unconscionably high price to conclude the round. This certainly was not our expectation and our commitment when we agreed to participate in the round,” he said.
Sharma said multilateral negotiations should not be allowed to collapse. “It is important to find a middle ground, not in the spirit of compromise but in the spirit of mutual cooperation,” Sharma said. Regional trade policy courses, or RTPCs, are three-month courses for government officials from LDC economies in transition and countries in the process of accession to WTO. These are organized and run by WTO in partnership with institutions of higher learning in different regions. India is organizing the event for the first time.