ABI Applauds Hong Kong Trade Agreement Compromise

December 20, 2005

The last minute compromise agreement reached in the latest World Trade Organization negotiations in Hong Kong enabled the trade delegations of the various countries involved to put on a brave face.

The industrialized world – mainly the U.S., Europe and Japan – agreed to talk more about their continuing subsidies on agricultural products, which, at least theoretically, will be reduced or even eliminated by 2013. As a result of that decision, the “Doha Round” negotiations on freeing up services, which began in 2001, can now proceed.

The Association of British Insurers welcomed the outcome as a boost for the promotion of economic growth “of all trading partners and the development of developing and least-developed countries.”

Speaking from the WTO meeting ABI Director General, Stephen Haddrill welcomed the result. “The agreement provides a launch pad for negotiations to come to a successful conclusion with a high level of ambition,” he stated. “By the end of 2006 we must see substantive agreements to reduce barriers to trade in financial services, benefiting both developed and developing countries. We urge the Government and the European Commission to seize this opportunity. Progress will require real commitment and effort as the agreement operates on a voluntary basis.”

The successful outcome of further negotiations in lowering trade barriers is of more than passing importance to the U.K.’s insurance industry. The ABI said it has “identified India, Brazil, China and Mexico as key markets where it currently faces a number of trade barriers. These represent a significant cost to both insurance providers and to consumers in those countries.”

It also indicated that the British insurance industry “believes that global trade liberalization in services makes a contribution to fighting poverty, boosting economic growth and integrating countries into the world economy.”

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