World Bank urges global trade breakthrough at G8
By Gilbert Le Gras
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Global trade talks are on the cusp of collapse and leaders of the world's most powerful industrialized and developing countries must break the impasse at a summit in Russia next week, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz wrote in a letter to each leader.
"With time running out, our collective efforts can make the difference," he said in a letter sent on Friday to leaders of the Group of Eight rich industrialized nations and five major developing economies due to meet in St. Petersburg on July 17.
The meeting of leaders from the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia comes two weeks after trade ministers met in Geneva but failed to resolve any differences over farm and industrial goods which, along with services, make up the three pillars of the talks.
"We can work to lift millions from poverty, boost developing country income, improve global market access and reduce taxpayer and consumer costs for all, or allow the whole effort to collapse, with harm to everyone," Wolfowitz wrote.
The meetings begin on July 15 and end on July 17, when the leaders of China, Brazil, India, South Africa, Mexico, the African Union and international organizations are scheduled to meet with their Group of Eight counterparts -- the G8 plus 5.
The so-called Doha development round started almost five years ago with a mandate of lifting millions of people out of poverty through freer trade and enhanced global growth.
Poorer nations have long insisted that richer countries must open their agriculture markets before they will open their industrial and services markets.
Wolfowitz called on all sides to make further concessions.
"Next week, a collective pledge by the U.S. to reduce agriculture subsidies, by the (European Union) to improve market access and the + 5 Members to limit tariffs on manufactures ... could help seal a deal," Wolfowitz wrote.
Full trade liberalization could generate $300 billion a year in additional world economic production with developing countries gaining up to $86 billion, dwarfing annual bilateral assistance efforts, he said.
"The world's poorest people, the 1.2 billion living on less than $1 a day, are counting on your good intentions being transformed into decisive action, just as last year when your resolute political leadership launched the historic Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative," he added in reference to the outcome of the G8's Gleneagles summit in Scotland