Indonesia, WTO get ready for US$1 trillion trade talks
By John Heilprin, APDAVOS, Switzerland -- Indonesia may hold the key to a US$1 trillion injection into the global economy.
January 28, 2013, 12:11 am TWN
That's how much the World Trade Organization believes is riding on talks later this year in Bali, when trade ministers hope to cut through some of the red tape that slows global commerce.
Indonesia's Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told The Associated Press that failure is not an option and that a strong effort is being put in to ensure that the WTO meeting in Bali is “crowned with success.”
“It's very critical now, especially with the difficulties in the global economy, especially in the eurozone,” he said. “Trade facilitation becomes a key driver for economic recovery, so this is now even ever more important to what it was before.”
Trade ministers from 24 nations met Saturday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Afterward, Swiss Economic Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann said the group agreed they could reach a tentative agreement on some of the key elements of a global trade deal this summer, in preparation for the ministerial talks in December at Bali.
The current trade talks, known as the Doha Round, began in 2001, and after a decade of little progress, many had pronounced the negotiations to reduce global trade barriers as dead.
Schneider-Ammann said he sensed some “optimism” that efforts to streamline customs procedures and other rules to reduce the costs of trade “will be successful.”
The Doha negotiations have been billed as a way of boosting economic development among the poorest countries, by reducing barriers on their exports to wealthier markets.
The WTO's director general, Pascal Lamy, has been telling the Davos gathering of political, business and academic elites that an international trade deal would provide a US$1 trillion boost to the global economy.
Flanked by Schneider-Ammann, Lamy told reporters that he believes it is technically “do-able” to craft draft agreements on some of the key elements of a deal by next summer.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said he had to “temper” his enthusiasm for a deal since it has eluded the world for a decade.
“But, at least of the 24 countries represented today, it felt like we had made more substantive progress,” he said.