No WTO Ministerial This Year

As I predicted on Morning Report on Wednesday, WTO Director-General Lamy has decided against calling a Ministerial meeting to try and finalise the modalities for the WTO Doha Round.  It amazes me that Trade Ministers and officials were able to get away with ignoring the instructions from their leaders at the G20 and APEC meetings.  This report is from Reuters

GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Trade Organization (WTO) dropped plans on Friday to seek a breakthrough for a new trade deal this year, risking an increase in protectionism as the world economy suffers its worst crisis in decades.

Key members voiced disappointment at the decision, but vowed to push on with the negotiations next year, when economic conditions will be harder and the new administration of Barack Obama will have taken office in the United States.

WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy told members he had decided against calling trade ministers to Geneva this month to push for a deal in the WTO’s seven-year-old Doha round, because they were not showing enough political will to narrow differences.

The decision means ministers were unable to meet a call by leaders of the G20 rich and emerging nations last month to reach an outline Doha deal by the end of this year to help counter the financial crisis by warding off protectionism.

It also promises an uncertain period for international trade, the lifeblood of the global economy, as the world navigates the worst economic crisis since the 1930s.

Lamy, an ascetic Frenchman, said a meeting to produce a Doha deal would have boosted business confidence by showing that governments could work together to solve problems.

“Next year the world will be in even more need of reassurance that governments can take their collective responsibility to strengthen the trading system through a Doha agreement,” the keen marathon-runner told a news conference.

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