WTO confident of 9.5% growth in trade despite crisis in EU

Written by Ronojoy Banerjee | Ronojoy Banerjee | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 19 2010, 05:26am hrs
The World Trade Organisation is confident of maintaining the predicted 9.5% plus growth in world trade, organisations deputy director-general Alejandro Jara told FE in an interview. Jara said that despite the economic crisis brewing in the European Union and its subsequent impact on world trade, overall merchandise trade would grow at a very healthy rate. Looking at the year so far, our experts feel that it (world trade) is going to grow around 9.5-10%, he said. WTO director-general Pascal Lamy had said in March that after a dismal year 2009 when world trade dipped 12%, it would grow at a healthy rate of 9.5% in 2010.

Jara said that the demand by developing countries like India and China to bring services negotiations on par with agriculture and Nama was a positive development. He said that this also marked a distinct turnaround in Indias stand over the years. In 1986 when the Uruguay round was launched, there were 10 countries which were fiercely opposed to the inclusion of services in the negotiations. Brazil and India led the group. Now they want services to be included. This is a very good and a healthy development, he said.

Jara hinted that countries would have to further liberalise their services. The commitments made by members in WTO on services is very distant from reality which is how much they have liberalised unilaterally...services need to be brought into the ambit of negotiations because it is very much a part of the package, he added. Acknowledging the rising skepticism over the delay in the resolution of the Doha round, Jara said that over the years talks have progressed substantially which is a healthy development. I can understand the skepticism since we have set deadlines (for Doha conclusion) in the past but have not been able to stick to those...but we have made progress and not gone backwards. He, however, declined to give a fresh deadline for a conclusive breakthrough in the Doha round. Jara said, All I can say is that we will conclude the round when we get a good agreement.

Earlier this week, commerce secretary Rahul Khullar had said that the Doha round would not be concluded in 2010. In June 2009, Lamy had set the end of this calendar year as the deadline for the Doha talk conclusion. Choosing his words carefully, especially when it came to the protectionist measures adopted by the US to spur its domestic economy, Jara said that individual countries which form the 153-bloc of the WTO had to take up the matter if they felt measures by any country were against the WTO mandate.