Doha trade negotiations: Let’s Go the Last Mile, says OECD’s Gurría


02/09/2008 - OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría has called on the participants in negotiations for a new multilateral trade agreement to “go the last mile” and bring the World Trade Organization’s Doha round to a successful conclusion.

Following is the text of a statement issued by Mr. Gurría, who is attending  the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra, organised by OECD and the World Bank, and hosted by the government of Ghana:

“There is no scarcity of worrying news on the global economy these days. But it is in our power to provide an immensely positive signal, by bringing the WTO’s Doha round to a successful conclusion. The WTO is about open markets. Opening up markets further in the Doha negotiations is one of the most important contributions we can make to stimulating the world economy and to allowing all nations to benefit from global economic progress.

Open markets are particularly important for economic and social development. It was, therefore, a wise decision at Doha to place priority emphasis, in this round of WTO negotiations, on development.

Developing and emerging economies must be enabled to improve their own economic prospects by getting better access to growing markets, and seeing subsidies reduced that distort competition with their producers. At the same time it is also important to remember the experience of many rapidly growing economies that markets open to foreign products have proven a most successful ingredient for economic growth.

Considerable progress has been made in the Doha negotiations over the years, and the July 2008 Ministerial has added significant elements to a package of potential final results. The serious efforts made in July testify that the benefits of open markets are well understood, particularly at a time when the global economy is showing signs of weakness. With the tireless and able support of the WTO’s Director General Pascal Lamy, ministers were in reach of a package that, if agreed, would make the Doha Round one of the most successful rounds of GATT/WTO negotiations ever.

What is needed now is the political will, including at the highest level of governments, to go the last mile. Short-term domestic political concerns must not get in the way of achieving the global public good that is now so clearly in sight. We can build on the good progress that was achieved up to and in the July Ministerial, and provide negotiators with the leeway needed to seal a package of ambitious results. The process to get there may take a while, but the sooner it is achieved the better it can contribute to stimulating the ailing global economy.

Fundamentally, a Doha breakthrough, so nearly in reach in July, now depends on political leadership more than on anything else. Where further analysis and evidence can assist, the OECD stands ready to provide whatever may be needed.

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