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2008 is 'Make Or Break' for Doha trade talks
28
Jan '08
With fears growing of a global economic recession, trade leaders urged businesses to press their governments to seek a successful conclusion to the Doha Round of trade talks in 2008, or risk seeing a rise in new barriers to international commerce.

“If it's not concluded this year, it won't be concluded next year - and by 2010 the caravans will have moved on elsewhere,” Peter Mandelson, Commissioner, Trade, European Commission, Brussels, told participants at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008.

“Not only will the caravans have moved on in different directions of trade negotiations, but what has already been on the table, which in my view is quite substantial, will have been put into deep freeze.”

After more than six years of stop-start negotiations, the Doha talks between members of the World Trade Organization have ground to a halt. With less than a year before US President George Bush leaves office, time is rapidly running out for reaching an agreement to reduce tariffs, subsidies and promote freer and fairer trade, panellists said.

The plenary session “Threats to the Global Trading System” followed an informal lunch meeting of trade ministers in Davos. Despite important progress on technical issues over the past six months, panellists revealed, the group remains no closer to an agreement and scepticism is high. Concerns persist among developing countries that lower tariffs will unfairly expose poor rural farmers to global competition and jeopardize growth that would be a potential buffer against a global slowdown. “The content of this Round must deliver to healthy economies in Asia, in Africa, in the Pacific and in Latin America because that's the goose that's laying the golden egg,” said Kamal Nath, Minister of Commerce and Industry of India.

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