WTO head: ‘It’s make-or-break time’ for new liberalisation talks

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Series Details Vol.7, No.20, 17.5.01, p2
Publication Date 17/05/2001
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Date: 17/05/01

By Simon Taylor

World Trade Organisation head Mike Moore says July will be a make- or-break time if a new round of liberalisation talks is to be launched this year.

Moore, in Brussels this week for the UN Conference on Least-Developed Countries, insists WTO members need to sort out most of their disagreements if they want to avoid a repeat of the Seattle summit when they meet in Qatar. Moore said: "We need to identify vital national interests."

Although EU trade officials are sceptical that it will be possible to agree a draft agenda by then, Moore believes the signs are positive for a new round to be launched in Doha.

"The flattening of the world economy is concentrating minds a bit while the transatlantic relationship is calming," he said in a reference to the recent EU-US deal on the long-running banana dispute.

The prospect of a US slowdown was convincing more developing countries of the merits of a new round, he claimed. "They need a robust US economy. This is helping people focus, especially in Asia-Pacific."

But Moore insisted that helping developing countries to implement their obligations under WTO agreements was essential to win their support for further liberalisation.

He called on the world's rich nations to "help the poorest of the poor" by improving their access to the industrialised world's markets.

"A round offers the poorest and most disenfranchised among us the leverage to obtain wider access for their products, more funds for technical assistance and more flexibility in meeting their commitments under WTO rules," he said.

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