Annan urges G8 leaders to push for deal
BERLIN (Reuters) - United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Monday he hoped the leaders of the world's top economies meeting in Russia next week would work to ensure the Doha round of trade talks was not a failure.
"When I attend the G8 summit in St Petersburg next week, I will urge leaders to take bold measures to ensure that the Doha round succeeds and truly benefits developing nations," Annan said in the text of a speech for delivery in Berlin.
"Middle-income countries must be given, and must be prepared to concede, genuine market access for both goods and services while the duty-free and quota-free access promised to the least-developed countries must become a full reality."
Annan also said it was "high time to eliminate all subsidies that caused poor countries to face unfair competition from richer ones".
Leaders from the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia gather in St Petersburg on July 15-17. Trade, energy security and Iran's nuclear programme will dominate the agenda.
They meet two weeks after World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministers failed to resolve differences over farm and industrial goods, which along with services make up the three pillars of the trade talks.
Annan warned against defeatism in the trade negotiations, the success of which he said was crucial to ensuring that poor nations have a chance to develop.
"Recent setbacks in the Doha negotiations have led some participants to contemplate settling for something less than a true development round. That must not happen," he said, adding that countries must find "the courage needed to conclude the talks by the end of this year."
Annan said he would count on Germany, which takes over both the Group of Eight and European Union presidencies in January 2007, to ensure that the proper measures were taken to achieve the goal of making Doha a success.
"The German government's coalition agreement specifically refers to the need to cut agricultural subsidies and to ensure that its policies are coherent with efforts to promote development," Annan said.
The so-called Doha development round started almost five years ago with a mandate of lifting millions out of poverty through freer trade and enhanced economic growth.