‘WTO failure would hit growth’

Hong Kong, November 16:

A failure to tear down trade barriers at next month’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting would seriously impact on economic growth and exports in Asia, the chief of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) warned today.

“I really hope that the Hong Kong WTO meeting can make progress towards the final successful conclusion of the Doha round,” ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda said, “If a consensus of the Doha round is not reached in a timely manner, it will seriously effect Asia growth and exports, as the region’s economy is heavily reliant on export trade.”

“Especially for the emerging market economies in Asia, they are growing very fast,” he said on the sidelines of the Global Bond Summit held in Hong Kong. Kuroda said he has sent letters to all ADB governors asking them to build a consensus for the Doha talks.

The WTO is battling to avoid disaster at a crunch mid-December ministerial meeting, which aims to finalise an ambitious accord on breaking down world trade barriers. Asia-Pacific nations have been involved in an increasingly bitter war of words with the European Union over the past week, with Australia and the US repeatedly urging the EU to make new concessions.

The 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum today said cutting farm subsidies was the key to unblocking troubled global trade talks. However, EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said yesterday that the EU did not plan to make a further offer on agriculture before the December 13-18 WTO ministerial meeting in Hong Kong.

APEC piles pressure

BUSAN: Asia-Pacific nations said that cutting farm subsidies was the key to unblocking troubled global trade talks, putting pressure on the EU to offer deeper concessions. The 21 members of the APEC forum said agriculture must be addressed first to ensure progress at the WTO meeting. “We call for the breaking of the current impasse in agriculture negotiations. Unless pro-gress is made, we cannot make progress. Avoiding or compromising our ambition on this issue would mean we would lower expectations for the round as a whole.” — AFP

Ottawa to appeal

OTTAWA: Canada announced that it will appeal a WTO ruling that sided with the US in a longstanding trade dispute over softwood lumber. The trade organisation ruled that the US did not violate WTO rules by imposing countervailing duties on Canadian lumber imports it claimed were subsidised and harmed the US industry. But Canadian international trade minister emphasised that its southern neighbour is still “legally obliged to honour its Nor-th American Free Trade Agreement commitme-nts,” signaling Canada’s intention to fight on. — AFP