Meet to try to save Doha trade talks

Singapore, September 15:

A fresh attempt to salvage the Doha round of trade talks will be mounted in Singapore this weekend after the International Monetary Fund gave warning that rising protectionist pressures threatened continuing global prosperity.

Pascal Lamy, the director-general of the World Trade Organisation, will tell the annual meeting of the IMF and the World Bank here that failure to restart the talks in the next six months will result in them being put on ice until after the United States presidential elections in 2008.Last night, UK finance minister Gordon Brown and Hilary Benn, the UK international development secretary, said Britain would seek to breathe new momentum into the talks with a package of aid, worth $750m a year by 2010, to help poorer countries boost their capacity to trade.

Brown, who chairs the IMF’s main policy-making body, said Singapore offered a critical trade opportunity. “But, in addition to providing developing states with the access to trade, we must demonstrate our commitment to provide the practical support to reduce their transport and other costs which are, in some countries, a greater barrier than tariffs.’’