Trade & investment

ICC Chairman in Davos urges progress in trade talks

  • 26 January 2007

ICC Chairman Marcus Wallenberg is stressing the need for immediate progress in the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations during high-level meetings and on international television this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Today, Mr Wallenberg will attend a ministerial-level discussion entitled, “What next for the WTO Round?”  Pascal Lamy, WTO Director-General, will moderate the discussion. Also participating will be U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath and China’s Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai, plus a number of other high-ranking trade officials.

The ministers will debate prospects for renewing the negotiations and how business can aid the talks.

Yesterday, during appearances on BBC and CNN television, Mr Wallenberg said there appears to be new momentum toward re-starting the negotiations – which were suspended in July – with several political leaders having expressed their willingness to move forward.

High-level contacts between U.S. and EU officials in recent weeks have also given cause for renewed if cautious optimism.

Speaking to BBC presenter Tanya Beckett, Mr Wallenberg said: “Everybody’s ready to go forward but no one is willing to take the next step. This is worrying from a business point of view because we need clarity and to move away from the existing risk of more protectionism.”

He pointed to the historically-proven track record of the multilateral trading system in fostering growth and prosperity and called for the sustained high-level involvement of political leaders to ensure the necessary flexibility in negotiating positions.

ICC has continually stressed the importance of bringing the Doha Round to a successful conclusion by this spring.

“We have a very narrow window of opportunity, but it is extremely important to succeed given all that is at stake,“ Mr Wallenberg said.

On the sidelines at Davos, about 30 trade and agriculture ministers will gather for informal discussions on Saturday.

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