WTO Sees World Trade Deal Easing Economic Woes

Reaching a global trade deal would be a relatively easy way to help ease the economic crisis, the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) said Jan. 27, adding he believed agreement was possible this year.

“The Doha round (of trade talks) is a low-hanging fruit in terms of what has to be done in order to cope with this crisis and in order to mitigate its effects, notably on development,” WTO director general Pascal Lamy said.

The Doha round was launched in late 2001 to boost world trade and help developing countries export their way out of poverty.

“We’ve got a package on the table which is 80 per cent of what needs to be done. Let’s keep focused on completing the remaining 20 per cent,” Lamy said in an interview with Britain’s Channel 4 television.

He said it would take a little time for the new U. S. administration of President Barack Obama to be “up-and-running” on the trade negotiations.

Some in the U. S. business community have voiced concern that long standing trade priorities such as finishing the Doha round will be put on the back burner while Obama and Congress focus on restoring U. S. economic health and other domestic concerns.

Lamy also warned countries against a protectionist response to the economic downturn.

“You have to work on this collectively, you have to consult with others and you have to abide by the rules of the international system,” he said.

“Let’s not forget what… happened when beggar-thy-neighbour policies were put in place,” Lamy said, referring to the 1930s Depression.

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