World Bank chief urges resumption of WTO talks

GENEVA - The head of the World Bank added his voice on Monday to those calling for a revival of last month's abortive world trade talks.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Mon 18 Aug 2008, 11:51 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:54 AM

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said that the July meeting, which foundered on a proposal for a safeguard to help farmers in poor countries withstand a flood of imports, had left a good package of results on the table.

"It would be a mistake for the world economy and harmful for developing countries not to retrieve it," he said in a statement e-mailed from the Bank's Washington headquarters.

Several countries, most notably agricultural superpower Brazil, have called for an early resumption of the talks, which were intended to secure a breakthrough in the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) long-running Doha round.

WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy visits Washington this week after travelling to Delhi last week to sound out Indian and U.S. trade negotiators whose differences over the farm safeguard brought the talks to a standstill.

In his statement Zoellick sketched out ideas for a compromise to reconcile developing countries' need to protect their subsistence farmers with the demands of food exporters -- including other developing countries -- that the measure should not be abused to block normal trade.

"There is too much at stake to let this problem derail a global trade package that could expand economic growth and opportunity by cutting subsidies drastically, lowering tariffs significantly and opening up services markets," said Zoellick, a former U.S. trade chief.

"There is a good Doha deal still to be seized."

WTO members had agreed to try to achieve a Doha deal by the end of 2008 before the arrival of a new U.S. president and political changes elsewhere threaten to sideline the talks, launched in late 2001, for years to come.

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