The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which represents thousands of businesses in more than 130 countries, issued a bulletin stating that it “deeply regrets the failure announced last night of the key ministerial meeting in Geneva intended to arrive at agreed modalities for agricultural and manufacturing products as part of the long-drawn-out Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations.”
ICC Chairman Victor K. Fung stressed: “There is no alternative to the rules-based multilateral trading system, which the Doha Round seeks to strengthen. It is particularly important in this economic environment to continue to foster world prosperity and encourage the growth of developing economies who will be the biggest losers if the Doha Round were to fail. Governments must continue to talk.”
The ICC explained that “in international trade, as in so many other policy areas in today’s interdependent world economy, national governments apparently still have not fully realized the importance of international cooperation to tackle major challenges, which transcend national boundaries and which they are increasingly unable to resolve by acting alone.”
“Clearly, not enough member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) were ready to make the compromises necessary to reach a deal – even after 6½ years of talks,” stated ICC Secretary General Guy Sebban.
The ICC described the failure to reach an agreement as a “major set-back” and as “very bad news for the world economy at a time when growth is slowing sharply in many countries as a consequence of the financial crisis. “
“There is no question in our minds about the effects of the Doha Round on the global economy. Without a Doha deal, virtually all countries will experience less economic growth than they would if a Doha deal was in place,” Sebban added.
The bulletin noted a number of current international concerns – “climate change, energy shortages, and an explosion of food prices.” As a result, the ICC continued, “it is particularly disturbing that governments could not work together successfully to expand multilateral commercial ties that raise living standards. They will regret it in the medium term – including those governments who have blocked progress under pressure from politically influential vested interest groups.”
The ICC said that it “hopes that this week’s failure in Geneva will not mean the end of the Doha Round.” However, the organization concluded that “political circumstances do not appear in favor of completing the Round for the time being – but that may well change after a period of experiencing and reflecting on the economic and political consequences.
“In the meantime, ICC cannot overstate the vital importance of preserving and respecting the body of multilateral trading rules enforced through the WTO which have been laboriously developed over the past 60 years and which have proved so effective in raising living standards throughout the world.”
Source: The International Chamber of Commerce – www.iccwbo.org