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Present at the meeting were: leaders of the G-8 — Canada, France,
Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US — and Brazil, the EU,
India, China, Mexico and South Africa, and the heads of the African
Union, Commonwealth of Independent States, International Energy Agency,
International Atomic Energy Agency, United Nations, UNESCO, World Bank
and World Health Organization.
This is what Mr Lamy said:
The round of multilateral trade negotiations that began almost five
years ago is drawing to a close. We will soon know its outcome — whether
it is to be a success or a failure. And if I am particularly grateful to
President Putin for this opportunity to speak to you, it is because I
have the feeling that the answer lies with those of you who are seated
around this table today.
Not that you can decide for the other Members of the WTO: we need a
consensus of 150 Members. Nor will the negotiations be limited to the
handful of issues that I shall briefly be addressing before you here.
But the fact is, that the chief political responsibility lies here, with
85 per cent of the world's GNP and 75 per cent of world trade, and that
whether we like it or not, the remaining topics of negotiation now
depend on solving the agricultural and industrial conundrum.
The message I wish to transmit to you is simple and brief. It boils down
to two points:
At this stage, the deadlock in which we are caught will lead us to
failure very soon if you do not give your ministers further room for
negotiation; deadlines are only useful on that condition.
I am aware of your domestic political problems. However, I ask you to
ponder, in the decisions you make, the risk of a failure, which is
considerable — and indeed every bit as political.
Where do matters stand now? A fortnight ago, I was given a mandate to
hear confessions of negotiators, beginning with your negotiators, on how
much room for manoeuvre they had when it came to reducing agricultural
subsidies, opening up agricultural markets, and opening up industrial
markets. There were some good news, but they remain marginal, and the
beacons that have been lit have yet to mark out a landing zone for these
three topics. Clearly, you need to move closer on these issues, which
means that you must be willing to revise the instructions that you have
given your ministers.
On the face of it, if we look at the figures, the differences that
separate you at the end of negotiations are not insurmountable: a few
billion trade-distorting agricultural subsidies, and that would have to
be eliminated or transformed within a few years; a few billion in
supplementary agricultural exports for some, and hence supplementary
imports for the others, and a similar order of magnitude for industrial
products. In other words, a few percentage points in addition to the
concessions already proposed.
So the problem is not technical, but political. What is at issue here is
how your public opinion views these few extra percentage points in terms
of benefits obtained. And quite frankly, the price you have set for
these concessions is too high. We all know how politically difficult it
is to change that price. We know that an added effort has a cost for
you. But I am convinced that if we are to reach a compromise, that cost
will have to be accepted. What I am asking you to do, since it is
ultimately up to you to decide what your parliaments vote on, is merely
to weigh this cost against the cost of a failure.
Failure would mean scrapping the results that we have accumulated at the
negotiating table over the past five years, results that would make this
round the most ambitious of all the rounds concluded over the past 50
years, whether in terms of opening up trade in agriculture, industry or
services, or strengthening disciplines in the areas of subsidies or
trade regulation. In fact, these negotiations are already potentially
worth two to three times more than the preceding negotiations.
Above all, a failure would be a blow to the development prospects of the
three quarters of WTO Members whose economies are poorer or weaker than
yours and for which integration in international trade represents the
best hope for growth and for improving their systems of governance. This
is why you all agreed to call this round “the development round”: it was
to be a contribution to the Millennium Development Goals.
Finally, a failure would send out a strong negative signal for the
future of the world economy and the danger of a resurgence of
protectionism at a time when the pace of globalization is weighing
heavily on the social and economic fabric of many countries and when
geopolitical instability is on the rise.
A trading system based on multilateral rules is the least expensive
insurance policy available to the world economy. You have all been
reaping the benefits of that policy for many years now. But though it
may not be expensive, it is not free, and I am asking you to put in an
added effort to renew it for the years to come by deciding, all of you,
to take this opportunity to give your ministers now more room for
Thank you for your attention.
> G8 statement on Trade