EU trade chief warns of lasting damage if Doha talks fail

Updated: 2011-02-22 16:30


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BRUSSELS -- Failure to complete the decade- old Doha Round of global talks in 2011 might create lasting damage to the world trading system, the European Union (EU) trade chief warned on Monday.

"If Doha is not completed, we cannot move to a 21st century trade agenda," EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht told a conference in Brussels, warning if the current window of opportunity is not seized, the World Trade Organization (WTO) rule book and negotiating agenda would simply not be able to keep pace with the global economy.

De Gucht said the current world is characterized by global supply chains, which calls for global trade liberalization and a strong multilateral system of rules.

"The system must be reinforced to keep up with a rapidly evolving trading environment," he said.

The Doha Round of global trade talks kicked off in 2001, but it remained deadlocked over differences between developed and developing countries after nine years of marathon negotiations.

Trade ministers representing major WTO members, including De Gucht, made a new push last month on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

They agreed to finish the Doha Round by this year and set out a clear roadmap, under which negotiating texts in all areas of the negotiations would be ready by April and overall agreement on the package by July.

De Gucht said to complete the Doha Round, all main players need to contribute more.

"The EU and U.S. must continue their traditional leadership role. But there are also expectations of the major emerging countries that have reaped considerable benefits from the world trading system in the past few decades," he said.

The EU trade chief said what had been agreed in the negotiations would bring an additional 135 billion euros (185 billion U.S. dollars) to global output, and an extra 310 billion euros (424 billion U.S. dollars) to world exports on an annual basis, citing estimates.

But he called for more ambition by concluding the "unfinished business," particularly services and sectoral arrangements in industrial goods.

EU study showed a complete deal would result in an additional output increase of just under 300 billion U.S. dollars per year for the 27-nation bloc.


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