Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lamy Warns Against Bilateral "Disease"

Pascal Lamy has warned that bilateral and regional talks may be an obstacle to a resumption of the Doha Round of negotiations.

Speaking yesterday at "Why Do Companies Care About Europe," organised by the Confederation of European Business (UNICE), the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) warned that the increased emphasis on regional negotiations and bilateral trade agreements may undermine attempts to resume multilateral negotiations. In an Associated Press report, Lamy is quoted as warning, "All efforts (should be) on getting a multilateral deal. In the case of a failure, the poorest will be hit hardest."

In an address to the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament yesterday, Lamy said that the WTO would try to put more pressure on countries pushing such policies, to re-start the negotiations. Such countries include the US, Australia, Japan, India, Brazil, and of course, the EU. As a report today says, "Mandelson's bilateral plans will harm poor." In his speech, Lamy said that the failure of the trade talks would be like "a slowly developing disease that would progressively sap the strength of the multilateral trading system built up over the past 50 years, damaging its economic lungs, its political heart, and its systemic bone structure."

Lamy will be hosting an online chat today, 16.30-17.30 Geneva time - WTO in Crisis: Which Way Forward?

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