Call to take trade talks forward

London, August 21 :

US banking titan Citigroup and British Airways have written to president George W Bush and EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso to urge them to ‘identify a way forward’ for stalled global trade talks.

In the letter, signed by Citigroup chief executive Charles Prince and BA chairman Martin Broughton, the executives said it was ‘unacceptable’ that transatlantic disagreements over agriculture were blocking progress on the liberalisation of world trade.

“As co-chairs of the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue, we are writing to underscore our grave concern about the injury of the transatlantic marketplace — and indeed the global economy — will suffer if the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is allowed to fail,” according to the letter.

“Given several important factors, including the rise of protectionist tendencies, the increase in bilateral trade agreements, and the upcoming expiration of the US president’s Trade Promotion Authority to negotiate trade agreements in June 2007, we urge you

to use several upcoming meetings to reinvigorate discussion of the merits of multilateral trade rules and identify a way forward.”

The faltering WTO Doha trade round was suspended last month amid a bitter dispute between Europe and the United States over farm tariffs and subsidies.

The letter stated that failing to deliver an ambitious Doha settlement would seriously diminish prospects for generating faster economic growth, creating more jobs and rising prosperity levels in both developed and developing countries.