Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

"G-20 Developing Nations Push to Revive WTO Talks," China Daily, August 3, 2006.

The G-20 group of developing nations will attempt to help revive the collapse of World Trade Organization talks for a global trade treaty at a meeting next month in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said yesterday.

Amorim announced the G-20 meeting four days after he met with US Trade Representative Susan Schwab in Rio. Both said the WTO talks could be saved if trade ministers hold intensive meetings in coming weeks and months.

Speaking to Brazilian lawmakers, Amorim said regional and bilateral trade deals won't work as a substitute to a deal involving the 149-nation WTO.

"There isn't any alternative to the WTO," he said. "If the WTO doesn't work out, the damage will be severe, not only for Brazil, but for everyone, and would serve as a signal to the world of the breakdown of the multilateral system."

WTO negotiations collapsed earlier this month in Geneva over disagreements on farm subsidies in rich nations and market access in developing countries. The 21 member nations of the G-20 have about 60 percent of the world's population and are responsible for about 21 percent of the planet's agricultural exports.

Trade ministers set a tentative schedule for the new meetings to be held September 9-10. Then heads of state from India and South Africa will travel to Brazil's capital, Brasilia, for a September 13 summit, hosted by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, on reviving a global treaty.

Amorim also warned that a complete failure of the Doha Round of trade talks, started in the capital of Qatar five years ago, could generate trade protectionism worldwide and lead to increased trade retaliation by nations.

The G-20 was formed in 2003 with Brazil as one of its leading member nations. The other members are Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, China, Cuba, Egypt, the Philippines, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, South Africa, Thailand, Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
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