Jul 11, 2008

WTO Round At One Minute To Midnight

UK PM Brown has been consistent in his strong support for an outcome in the WTO Round. He yesterday shared his assessment of prospects for this negotiation

UK prime minister Gordon Brown has warned trade negotiations are at a crisis point, but says agreement with South American countries could secure a last-minute deal.Mr Brown, speaking to reporters at the G8 summit in Hokkaido, Japan, said the World Trade Organisation's Doha round talks were "at a minute to midnight".He warned that "protectionist sentiment in the world is growing" and that, in a time of global economic slowdown, the threat to living standards is also growing as a result."This is the best chance we have to send a signal that protectionism should not hold the world economy back," Mr Brown said."I've also talked to my European colleagues who have said very clearly that he is against the protectionism that exists now both in Europe and around the world.WTO head Pascal Lamy will hold the next round of talks on July 21st. If these "make or break" negotiations fail, Mr Brown warned, there may not be any further progress for at least a year.Talks between the prime minister and Brazilian president Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva appear to have made progress, however. Mr Brown said he believes Brazil is "key" to success in the talks because of its leadership of South American trading bloc Mercosur.He added: "The time for technical negotiations is drawing to an end. The key decisions now are political ones and we must act decisively now. The cost of failure is simply too great.