Sumario: 17 September 2007, New York - Remarks by Peter Mandelson, European Commissioner for External Trade, at the Council on Foreign Relations Breakfast
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has today said that the successful conclusion of the Doha Round of world trade talks would top up economic confidence and lock in the current level of the openness in the global economy as a guard against future recession and protectionism.
Speaking at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York, Mandelson argued that Doha negotiations had made more progress that many thought and that "we nearly have a deal on the key issues". He argued that - especially given the current turbulence in global markets - both the EU and the US have the strongest possible interest in working for a deal that locks in the current openness of global trade and strengthens the global economic governance system.
Full text of Mandelson's remarks follows:
"At a time when our economies may be at risk as a result of the turbulence in the financial markets, the Doha world trade round offers insurance against protectionism and recession.
Europe and America have a shared interest in a global deal now on trade, one that reinforces openness on a multilateral basis, through the application of strengthened trade rules. One that keeps the international trading system running, with the fast-emerging new Asian and Latin American economies anchored firmly inside. The EU and the US are joint custodians of this governance system. After all, they created it.
This is, in the final analysis, what Doha is ultimately about. We focus on a few tonnes of poultry imports here, or a couple of billion farm subsidies there or half a point off an automotive tariff somewhere else. Lowering tariffs and subsidies is important. Doha will do both of those things. But every bit as important is topping up economic confidence and strengthening the rules that bind world trade relationships.
The Doha negotiations have made more progress than people realise. While everybody has said that the talks are failing they have in fact been moving forward and we nearly have a deal on the key issues. There are draft texts on the table, others are not far behind. The next stage will now see further revisions, adding detailed nuts and bolts where a number of blanks exist.
The European Union is ready to do a deal as is, I believe, the US. I know it is politically difficult in the US, but all of us need to see beyond the limits of agricultural protection and grasp the gains where the huge bulk of our trade takes place, in manufacturing and services.
There is in excess of a $200 billion a year trade deal in goods and services on the table. And this is a conservative estimate. A Doha success would mean making current levels of openness largely irreversible. Doha is like a ratchet in the global economic machine that will stop it sliding backwards.
In the final stages, we will all need to negotiate hard, but we also need to see beyond the immediate negotiation to our real long term interest. This is one of those times when politicians need to think and act like statesmen.
I do think that the US has a key role to play at this stage in moving to the final negotiating phase. But all in the WTO need to contribute to the limit of their ability to do so. It is not only for the US to make difficult decisions."
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