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WTO Reminded of the Importance of Liberalisation

MEDIA RELEASE

14 July 2006

WTO Reminded of the Importance of Liberalisation of Trade in Services

The New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and Industry have written to the Director-General of the WTO emphasising the importance of service negotiations to the outcome of the Doha Round. (Link to letter to Pascal Lamy.)

The Round is currently at a crucial stage with Director-General, Pascal Lamy holding a series of intensive consultations with member countries to facilitate an agreement on agricultural and non-market access.

“The Chambers’ view is that for the EU, US and Japan to agree to liberalisation of trade in difficult areas such as agriculture there will need to be some progress in areas where they seek changes, such as trade in services,” said Charles Finny, Chief Executive of the Wellington Chamber.

“Not only do services negotiations have the potential to break the current impasse, they are crucial in their own right. Both developed and developing countries stand to gain enormously from the liberalisation of international trade in services.

The letter also warned of the potentially disastrous consequences failure to complete the negotiations this year would have on the WTO, the international trading system, and the global economy.

“The on-going liberalisation of multilateral trade over the last fifty years has been responsible for unprecedented economic growth. Should the Doha Round fail, not only would the benefits of further liberalisation be foregone but the world economy would lose much of those gains with the likely emergence of protectionist forces.

“A proliferation of bilateral and regional trade agreements, which would be a likely consequence of a failed Round, is a poor alternative to multilateral trade liberalisation.

“The consequences of delaying the Round’s conclusion are also severe. It is essential the commitment to concluding a substantial agreement by the end of this year is retained. There is no case for delaying negotiations in the hope that countries will substantially alter their positions,” Mr Finny concluded.

The Chamber is also part of a global coalition of services which met with Mr Lamy earlier this week. The Global Services Coalition has called on WTO members to produce improved and commercially meaningful offers to liberalise services. (Link to Global Services Coalition media release.)


ENDS

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