WTO backs Indias concern over growing protectionism

Written by fe Bureau | Davos | Updated: Jan 30 2010, 05:24am hrs
Sharing concerns of India and other developing countries, the WTO on Thursday said protectionism is a major concern and expressed confidence that a deal on opening the world trade further is possible this year.

We need to remain vigilant. With unemployment remaining high, protectionist pressures remain a worry, WTO director general Pascal Lamy told PTI here.

His comments incidentally coincide with US President Barak Obamas heightening the pitch to protect American jobs in the wake of employment losses due to outsourcing to developing countries such as India. Obama said it was time to end tax breaks to American firms that outsource jobs overseas, while helping those which create employment within the US.

Lamy said the international trade body would continue to keep a close watch on protectionist measures that impede international free trade. We at the WTO secretariat will continue monitoring these developments through 2010, he said.

India and several emerging economies like Brazil have raised concern over the protectionist measures in the West, especially after the global financial crisis.

The stance against protectionism got support from South Korea with its President Lee Myung-bak saying that G-20 summit had played a pivotal role in resisting protectionist pressures and we need to reaffirm the importance of continuing our stance against protectionism.

Concluding the Doha development agenda before the end of the year should be given the highest priority.

Commenting on the possibility of concluding the Doha Development Round of trade of talks, which commenced in the Qatari capital in 2001 aimed at enhancing global commerce, Lamy said reaching the agreement is doable in 2010 but we now need to see it done.

We have planned a schedule of technical work over the next months. Governments will assess at the end of March is it still feasible to conclude negotiations this year, he said.

Global leaders, including the G-20 members, have been seeking completion of the Doha Round of talks in 2010.