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My message today should come as no surprise.
The decision by WTO Members in February to resume the Doha trade
negotiations across the board has not yet led to the incisive
breakthrough needed in order to bring the Round to a successful
conclusion by the end of this year. Although this objective has been
reaffirmed no later than 2 days ago by G4 ministers meeting in Delhi, if
the situation does not change soon, governments will be forced to
confront the unpleasant reality of failure. Failure to lock-in the very
significant package of trade liberalisation and rule-making that is
available. Failure to deliver on the core development objectives of this
negotiation. Failure of the first WTO trade Round, and of one of the
most important exercises in multilateral economic cooperation of the
I ask you this morning to reflect seriously on what that would mean.
First, losing the benefits of a new decade of global trade opening that
this Round has the potential to deliver. The Uruguay Round began a
sustained process of economic integration and falling import prices that
made a vital contribution to strong and non-inflationary growth,
worldwide. There are, of course, trade initiatives being pursued on
bilateral and regional levels. But these are exclusive to only a
relatively small group of countries, and their coverage of the
liberalisation and integration agenda is only partial. They cannot
compare with the potential of the Doha Round to deliver trade opening on
a global scale, and to tackle the toughest areas where trade restrictive
and distorting measures still prevail. Failure of the Round would strip
the global economy of one of its most powerful and enduring sources of
strength and stability.
Second, improving trade opportunities for developing countries is at the
heart of our international strategy to promote development and alleviate
poverty. Trade restrictions that continue to penalize their exports and
handicap their economic growth, particularly the poorest amongst them,
are a travesty of justice and a denial of our commitment to achieve the
Millennium Development Goals. We need better market access and more
balanced rules that allow developing countries to reap the benefits of
This must be complemented with help to developing countries to build up
their capacity to trade. Aid for Trade is not formally part of the Doha
Round, but it is in my view a necessary complement to larger trade
opening. The WTO is working closely with international development and
financial institutions, as well as with individual donors to raise the
effectiveness of Aid for Trade and to implement the Enhanced Integrated
Framework for the Least Developed Countries. Your support, as Finance
and Development Ministers, will be crucial to our endeavour and I ask
you to give it your personal attention. It has a critical role to play
in meeting the development objectives of the Doha Round.
The third point I ask you to reflect on is what it will mean if we fail
to consolidate and strengthen the multilateral trading system. The basis
for international economic cooperation can never be taken for granted.
The complexity of the process of globalisation presents a constant
political challenge to measure up to its critics and to manage economic
adjustment, particularly at the national level. The rules-based,
multilateral trading system is there to help governments deal with that
challenge. Sending out a message that the Doha Round cannot be completed
would undermine the system and weaken the ability of member governments,
individually and collectively, to stand firm against trade
protectionism. That is a risk which we cannot afford to take lightly.
A breakthrough in the negotiations in the next few months would send a
much needed message of confidence, that we remain committed to open
markets and multilateral rules and that the foundations of the global
economy are reinforced. We are not attempting to do the impossible.
Success is entirely within reach. The challenge is less technical, than
political. It is about leadership, about compromise, about countries
recognizing their common interest in success and the collective costs of
failure. As in other Rounds, US-EU leadership is indispensable. Unlike
previous Rounds, leadership from key emerging players and ownership by
developing countries is now just as important.
I appeal to you all to put your energy and commitment into concluding
the Doha Round. At this critical juncture in the negotiations, the WTO
urgently needs your full support.
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Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund