Harvest low-hanging fruit in Doha first: Pascal Lamy

Written by fe Bureau | Agra | Updated: Jan 30 2013, 09:36am hrs
The outgoing chief of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Pascal Lamy, on Monday said that the Doha Round will not conclude before his term as director-general (DG) ends and that countries should start with harvesting low-hanging, high-impact fruit.

Agricultural issues and the proposal for public procurement can be part of the Doha Round. Then issues of peak tariff reduction and fisheries subsidies will remain, which can be dealt with later, Lamy said at the ongoing CII Global Partnership Summit in Agra.

He added that it is important to implement the decisions that trade ministers took last year and it is difficult to achieve consensus because its complex. Lamys term ends on August 31. Trade facilitation is becoming more and more important for easing trade, he added.

This assumes significance as India recently refused to accept any agreement on IT and environmental goods, proposed by a group of developed nations at the WTO, as it is likely to adversely impact the domestic industry. Rich nations, including the US, want India and other emerging economies to be part of the four major sectoral pacts trade facilitation (TF), information technology (IT), environmental goods and international services agreement.

On the future of trade and multilateral agreements, he said: Trade has always been a combination of preferential, regional, bilateral and multilateral agreements, and WTO is a synergy between the various approaches. For instance, tariff preferences automatically erode as they multiply.

The question, he said, is whether the content of the agreements is conducive to opening up long-term multilateral trade.

On challenges for the next DG, Lamy said the rulebook needs to be adjusted as the world changes with changes in global supply chain.

It has to be a combination of short-term vigilance on protectionism and long-term vision to open trade. However, open trade also needs a proper regulation of the financial systems, he noted.