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ICC Secretary General Guy Sebban today appeared on CNBC Europe’s Morning Exchange programme in a panel discussion on trade.

Speaking alongside Nigel Grimwade, He ad of the Economics Division at the London South Bank University, Mr Sebban emphasized the importance of a successful conclusion of the World Trade Organization Doha round of trade negotiations in 2006 and the need for concrete progress at the upcoming Sixth Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Hong Kong this December.

Mr Sebban, who assumed the position of ICC Secretary General at the beginning of this month, said that ICC remained optimistic about a successful conclusion of the Doha round of trade negotiations but cautioned that very slow progress in Geneva did not reflect the positive message sent by heads of state and government when they met at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, UK last week.

“We are hopeful about the negotiations and we think they can be concluded positively,” he said. “We will have an indication of this in the coming days with the WTO mini-ministerial taking place in China. This will give an opportunity for governments to demonstrate that what was said at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles could turn into real decisions; reality and not only words.”

The other Morning Exchange guest, Nigel Grimwade, agreed that a successful conclusion of the Doha round of negotiations is vital: “Hong Kong is crucial in taking the negotiations into the last lap and we’re looking for a conclusion early next year. If the Doha round fails, if it breaks up without success, I think that’s very bad news for all of us.”

When asked whether ICC approved of bilateral trade agreements Mr Sebban replied: “At ICC we have always been in favour of multilateral trade negotiations. We recognize some merit in bilateral talks but very often one player is far stronger than the other. As we support a level playing field on a worldwide basis, we support multilateral negotiations – they are the best way to create jobs, to increase prosperity and to bring more choice to consumers.”

Mr Sebban outlined what ICC considers the four priorities for the negotiations, as detailed in ICC’s policy recommendations for the Sixth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization Hong Kong, 13-18 December 2005.

“A main priority, as everyone agrees, is agriculture. We want to create better access for agricultural products from developing countries. And we’re also in favour of what we call NAMA, non-agricultural product market access. In addition we’d like to see real progress in services, trade liberalization and also in trade facilitation,” he said.

The ICC Secretary General also stressed the need for better protection of intellectual property rights to improve worldwide economic growth and drew attention to ICC’s BASCAP initiative as a means to achieve the desired results.

“At ICC we are very conscious of the negative consequences of IP theft,” he said. “We know that many companies and many organizations have made a lot of effort to counter the problem but we’ve discovered recently that it is not enough. To be able to make progress we have launched BASCAP, Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy.”

“Everyone is looking for growth and by combining a successful conclusion of the Doha Round with better IP protection we’ll be able to achieve better results on a worldwide basis,” he concluded.

CNBC Europe is Europe’s leading financial news channel, reaching more than 85 million offices and households worldwide.

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