World leaders should make early efforts to conclude the Doha round of global trade talks as a key part of fighting the economic crisis, the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Friday.
In an interview with Reuters Financial Television, Pascal Lamy welcomed a consensus at Thursday’s G20 summit to avoid protectionism and an agreement to support global trade flows with €250 billion ($335.8 billion) worth of finance measures.
“It is a very positive response,” Lamy said. “Implementation now is something we will be watching,” he added of guarantees and other measures aimed at encouraging importers and exporters to help reverse a sharp drop in trade.
“The important thing is that there is, as in other areas of the G20 work yesterday, convergence, unanimity on the view that in order to respond to this crisis, trade must remain open.”
Lamy said he hoped for a prompt drive to kick start the stalled Doha trade round. But he added it was too early to say when progress could be made, noting that India has elections this year and the new U.S. administration needed to fine-tune its position.
“It will be good if political reengagement was to take place before the summer break,” he said. “The overall direction, political roadmap is that these talks … should be concluded as part of the overall response to the crisis.”
Lamy noted the risk of recession leading to protectionism. “There has been a bit of a slippage by a number of (countries) … For the moment nothing that will have a really big macro-economic impact on trade flows, but the danger is there,” he said.
(Writing and additional reporting by Marcin Grajewski and Mark John; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)
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