WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the World Trade Organization said on Saturday he was “completely convinced” the Doha round of world trade talks can be successfully completed this year.
“I am completely convinced that we have it within our means, politically and technically, to finish the Doha round this year,” Pascal Lamy, the WTO’s director-general, said in a statement to the IMF’s International Monetary and Financial Committee, which is meeting in Washington.
“To do so, the first step we need is for WTO member governments to agree at ministerial level by the end of May on the framework for cutting agricultural tariffs, agricultural subsidies and industrial tariffs,” he said.
Lamy said trade is particularly vital in periods of financial uncertainty, noting it had served as a “shock absorber” between the financial sector and the real economy during the Asian financial crisis a decade ago.
“By keeping international trade in goods and services flowing, at the time the WTO system (contributed) to ensuring that the financial shock would not deteriorate into a far worse economic recession worldwide,” he said.
“In current circumstances, counting on the WTO to play its role, in particular through the conclusion of the Doha round, is a valuable message of reassurance for world markets.”
Reporting by Emily Kaiser; Editing by Neil Stempleman