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Indonesia pushes to revive Doha talks
Publication Date : 29-01-2013
Indonesia wants to revive long-stalled talks on the Doha Round when the World Trade Organisation (WTO) convenes in Bali in December, a minister has said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Saturday, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan said that Indonesia, as the host of the ninth WTO ministerial conference, wanted to produce an agreement to boost support for multilateral trade arrangements under the WTO.
Gita said that Indonesia would ask WTO members in Bali to back trade-facilitation and capacity-building measures for the least-developed countries (LDCs) and developing countries to encourage competition with more developed nations.
“This will become a stepping stone to cope with the unresolved trade talks under the WTO, including the Doha Round,” Gita said after a meeting of trade ministers at Davos.
The trade minister said that he told his peers of the need to establish a multilateral trading system to spur economic growth and create jobs.
“The problem is that several countries are still inclined to carry out trade protectionism. This should be prevented by, for example, establishing a fair multilateral trading system,” Gita said.
During the meeting, representatives of several developed countries backed Indonesia’s agenda, with some saying that they hoped that the Bali meeting would result in agreements and concrete results, especially on trade facilitation, to counter unemployment.
Meanwhile, representatives of lesser-developed countries said that they hoped that the Bali meeting would result in deals to build the capacity of their nations, perhaps though trade facilitation packages that in turn could also be extended to developing countries.
Gita said that he was optimistic that WTO member nations would support such requirements, which he described as feasible and relatively easy to implement.
The Doha Round of WTO talks, named after the capital of Qatar where the organisation was meeting in 2001, was launched to further liberalise trade among WTO members.
However, negotiations were effectively halted in mid-2008 due to a deadlock over on tariffs for industrial goods that led to a collapse of talks in other sectors. Since then, several efforts have been made to revive the Doha round.
Speaking in Davos last week, WTO director general Pascal Lamy said that it would be difficult to conclude the Doha Round this year, given the complexity of the negotiations, which cover 20 different aspects of trade including manufacturing tariffs, agriculture and services.
However, Lamy said that he was optimistic that representatives at the WTO ministerial meeting, slated to be held in Bali from December 3 to 6, would be able to resume talks on implementing some parts of Doha.
Lamy said that the agenda would be devised selectively, issue by issue, beginning with trade facilitation.
According to the director general, if WTO members reached an agreement in Bali to cut the red tape that hampers global trade by the end of this year, it would inject an additional US$1 trillion into the global economy.
Passage of the trade facilitation deal and of access for LDCs, according to Gita, would lay the groundwork for kick-starting Doha, particularly over subsidies and import duties on industrial goods.