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UN disappointed at Doha trade talks' collapse

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UN disappointed at Doha trade talks' collapse

by BuaNews Online
01 Aug 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced his disappointment at the collapse of the Doha round of trade liberalisation negotiations.

Mr Ban expressed concern over the effect of the breakdown of the talks on developing nations.

Negotiations broke down on Tuesday after nations failed to reach agreement on a safeguard that would allow developing countries to raise tariffs temporarily in the face of import surges and falling prices.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr Ban said that success was particularly important at this juncture when the world faces major development challenges, including climate change, poverty, increasing protectionism, limited progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the current food, fuel and financial crises.

The Secretary General is convinced that a successful conclusion to the talks was needed to energise international cooperation toward ameliorating conditions for developing countries to derive gains from trade and investment-led globalisation.

Concluding the seven-year-long round of global trade talks would help boost livelihoods in such nations, particularly the most poor and vulnerable.

It would also serve to enhance the world's economy by eliminating market distortions and reinforcing trade governance, he added.

Regarding the global food crisis, Mr Ban said that he has called on countries to reassess their policies regarding agricultural imports and exports, urging them to exempt humanitarian food aid.

Mr Ban and Pascal Lamy, Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said they were both hopeful talks could restart before the end of 2008.

Following the breakdown of talks, which kicked off on 21 July in Geneva, Mr Lamy said that participants had reached agreement on 18 out of 20 topics.

The 19th subject of discussion - the agricultural safeguard - saw some countries calling for a tariff increase going into effect only in the event of a high "trigger," or large surge in imports, while others urging a lower trigger.

"What members have let slip through their fingers is a package worth more than $130 billion in tariff-saving annually by the end of the implementation period, with $35 billion saving in agriculture and $95 billion in industrial goods," Mr Lamy told reporters on Wednesday

"With developing countries contributing one third and benefiting from two thirds of the overall gains [this would be] a true development round... with a rebalancing of the rules of the trading system in favour of developing countries."

The collapse of talks is certainly not going to strengthen the multilateral trading system, the Director General said, adding that he hoped the current system is "resilient" and will be able to withstand the challenges that lie ahead. - BuaNews

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