WTO chief says hopes of Doha deal are uncertain
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Last Updated: Monday, December 07, 2009, 13:41
Seoul: The World Trade Organisation chief urged members on Monday to resist protectionist pressure in the wake of the economic crisis, but said hopes of an early deal to free up international commerce are uncertain.

"In February this year, the global economic downturn was peaking," WTO director general Pascal Lamy told a forum.

"Less than a year on, progress has been made but we are not yet out of the woods."

Lamy, in a speech and comments at a press conference, said the volume of world trade this year would shrink by slightly more than 10 percent, "which is unprecedented in modern times".

In this environment, he said, "pressure for protectionist actions...with their illusory gains for the domestic economy, will not necessarily diminish any time soon."

Lamy said success in completing the Doha round of trade talks next year as scheduled was vital to signal business and consumer confidence, and would strengthen the hand of governments as they confront protectionist pressures.

"This will not occur unless they are all ready for heavy political lifting at home," he said, adding there would be a "crunch time meeting" in the first quarter to check if the goal was attainable.

Prospects for meeting the deadline remain uncertain, he said. "The jury is still out until the end of the first quarter of next year."


First Published: Monday, December 07, 2009, 13:41

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