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January 10, 2000
Many are the benefits of open trade, WTO chief tells India, Third World
Mike Moore, director-general, World Trade Organisation, has said his organisation is intended to be not just a static set of agreements, but a permanent framework for trade negotiations among its members. These improvements will come if ministers can agree on a further work programme which requires flexibility, Moore said in New Delhi on Monday.
In his first visit to any country after the Seattle round at the invitation of the Confederation of Indian Industry, Moore said, ''Issues were probably tried to be resolved (at Seattle) in the quiet of a formal negotiation.'' He said nobody wanted to wait for a seven-year round.
Moore is scheduled to meet the prime minister, finance minister and other officials on January 11.
Moore said that India stands to gain much from a balanced round. "Continued opening of the trade regime could translate into even higher growth rates and better jobs. Although these are difficult political decisions, India has shown already its commitment to a stable, liberal, rules-based multilateral trading system."
However, he empathised with the people who protested about WTO. ''But they are wrong to blame the WTO for all the world's problems. They are especially wrong when they say we are not a democratic house. We are owned by governments who represent hundreds of millions of voters.''
Moore spoke at length on the WTO's future. He said: "Many developing countries are experiencing difficulty implementing certain WTO commitments or see balances from their point of view in exiting agreements which they want addressed before taking on new obligations.
''Everyone agreed that was a key objective of a new round and it still is. Without firm commitments on implementation, there can be no development round.
"There is the need for greater access for their exports from developing countries. These issues are pressing for the smallest and most vulnerable among the developing countries as they are for large economies like India.
"The least developed countries are not threatened by globalisation. They are threatened by 'de-globalisation', falling outside of the world economy and slipping ever further behind. The problem is not trade, if anything it's not enough trade, not enough customers, not enough jobs.
"Governments themselves have responsibilities to make the case to provide honest and fair domestic policies. Some governments are paying up to nine times more on debt repayment than on domestic health.
"Trade liberalisation is not an end in itself. The WTO is not about opening markets solely for the sake of it. It is about providing opportunities so that trade can get a chance to expand in fair and reliable conditions and contribute to growth," Moore said.
Too many members wanted to write in detail in the Seattle ministerial document, issues that were normally part of a formal negotiation, Moore said.
''There should be another round of trade negotiations,'' he said.
Moore said there should have been a more detailed pre-Seattle negotiations that would have saved time later. ''Perhaps, we tripped over the trees and could not see the forest.''
Moore expressed disappointment that no agreement could be reached to launch a new development round of trade negotiations, although it was clear that a new round was supported by a very large number of WTO members.
The next round will be launched when the governments have the political will-power and when the costs of not engaging get too high, he said.
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