Trade ministers downbeat on WTO prospects

Trade ministers were sceptical yesterday about the prospects of concluding stalled global trade liberalisation talks this year, with some blaming the US? for foot-dragging.

Ministers from about 20 major economies held informal talks on the sidelines of the annual World Economic Forum meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, but Egypt's trade minister said they made little progress.

"I don't think very much came out of this meeting unfortunately," said Rachid Mohamed Rachid.

David Shark, Deputy US Aambassador to the WTO, who represented Washington at the meeting, declined comment on complaints at the level of US representation.

"It was interesting as always," he told reporters. "It was just a conversation." India's Trade Minister Anand Sharma described the meeting as a "free and frank exchange" – diplomatic code for a robust argument – and said there was an urgent need for trade negotiators to learn lessons from the global financial crisis. "One thing that has come out very clearly is that a multilateral rules-based trade regime must be put in place at the earliest," he said.

 

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