ICC steps up support to Doha trade deal in meeting with WTO head

  • 27 March 2008

In a meeting yesterday with Pascal Lamy, Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), ICC Secretary General Guy Sebban lent the strong and unswerving support of world business behind a final push to conclude the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations by the end of the year.

As negotiations intensify on striking an agreement on cuts in farm and non-farm tariffs, Mr Lamy told ICC he was hopeful that the terms of the agricultural and non-agricultural market access (NAMA) portions of the Doha Development Agenda could be agreed in a matter of weeks. In general, NAMA products include manufacturing products, fuels and mining products, fish and fish products, and forestry products.

If those terms were agreed by May, Mr Lamy was optimistic that a deal could also be struck in the rules and services areas of the round during the following months and that the round could be successfully concluded by the end of the year.

“I am glad for the support that ICC has given to the Doha Round and to the multilateral trading system,” said Mr Lamy. “Today, as the negotiations enter into a decisive moment, the voice of business is a reminder to negotiators that it is time they walk the last mile. I count on ICC to continue making the case for a rapid conclusion of the Doha Round.”

On behalf of world business, ICC has been a staunch supporter of the Doha Round since it was launched in 2001.

In the meeting yesterday, Mr Sebban described a new ICC campaign to put pressure on key governments to strike a deal.

As part of ICC’s new initiative, ICC Chairman Marcus Wallenberg sent a letter this month personally calling for decisive leadership to break the logjam in some prominent and sensitive areas of the round. The letter was addressed to trade and finance ministers of 24 key WTO members , including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, the European Commission, South Africa and the US. ICC’s Permanent Representative in Geneva, Jacqueline Coté, will personally follow-up these letters with calls to these members’ Geneva missions in coming weeks.

Ms Coté, Martin Wassell, ICC First Director, and Arancha Gonzalez, head of Mr Lamy’s cabinet, also attended the meeting yesterday at WTO’s headquarters.

“Given the uncertainty of the current global economic outlook, a successful conclusion of the Doha Round will add a much-needed boost to business confidence,” Mr Sebban told Mr Lamy.

“Negotiators are very close to an agreement. The momentum should not be lost,” Mr Sebban added, underscoring that trade opportunities unleashed by a new global trade pact will give a lift to the global economy and help mitigate the negative impact from the current economic downturn.

Last month, in an interview on CNN about the Doha Round, Mr Sebban called for greater political will to make the necessary compromises to reach agreement.