Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Action on Doha trade deal; Stop the finger pointing

The moment of truth in the World Trade Organization's Doha Round of trade talks is here. Failure to agree on the necessary modalities, to pave the way for the conclusion of the round at the approaching ministerial meeting in Geneva risks postponing the negotiations indefinitely.
The world economy is facing turbulence and uncertainty. Food and oil prices are soaring. Inflation is on the rise and growth prospects in many countries look unusually grim.
These conditions create an urgent need for action in favor of economic stability and development. The WTO and the Doha Round provide such an opportunity. The onus is now on key WTO members - developed as well developing countries - to show the courage and leadership when ministers meet in Geneva.
We cannot afford to miss the chance to counterbalance the present negative trends in world economic affairs. The credibility and respect of the whole multilateral trading system must be maintained.

The European Union has a particular responsibility. Not only are we the initiators of the round, but like all other WTO members we stand to gain considerably in economic terms from what is now on the table in the negotiations.
We need to maintain our push for ambitious overall results. The European Union's ability to remain a driving force in this crucial phase is dependent on our capacity to act in coherence. Now more than ever, EU unity is essential.
Our agreed objective is a comprehensive ambitious and balanced outcome. We also agree on the need to further improve the negotiating texts and the offers from key partners. We must not allow possible internal differences to get in the way.
If that were to happen, not only would our chances to get support for EU positions from others be undermined but we would also diminish the prospects of finalizing the Doha Round in 2008.
The EU and the rest of the world badly need a positive outcome of the Geneva meeting. We must go to Geneva with this responsibility in mind. If we fail, the fate of the round will be very uncertain. A great opportunity to promote world trade and prosperity would then be lost, and we must never forget that this is after all a development round.
Martin Ríman, minister of industry and trade, Czech Republic
Urmas Paet, minister of foreign affairs, Estonia
Kaspars Gerhards, minister of economics, Latvia
Andrej Vizjak, minister of the economy, Slovenia
Ewa Bjorling, minister for Trade, Sweden
Gareth Thomas, minister for trade and development, U.K.


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