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Multilateral Trade Reform: the Way Forward

Tasman Transparency Group

25 July 2006
Media release

Multilateral Trade Reform: the Way Forward

The apparent failure of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations demonstrates the imperative of first addressing economic reform at home.

This is the key message from the Tasman Transparency Group, who today released a considered paper “An Initiative to Strengthen the WTO”.

The Tasman Transparency Group comprises major industry associations and leading trade policy analysts in Australia and New Zealand.

The Group’s paper describes the reasons why the Doha negotiations have collapsed, a view endorsed overnight by the WTO secretary-general, Mr Pascal Lamy, who said: “now we have to think first at home”.

“The important lesson from Doha is not that pursuing multilateral negotiations is fruitless, but that existing WTO mechanisms are unable to produce a constructive outcome for the world trading system,” the Group says.

“There is no point in looking backwards for scapegoats. Rather, we should understand why existing WTO mechanisms are bound to fail, and address those shortcomings at source.”

“Enhancing domestic transparency is the way to do this.”

“Future success in multilateral trade negotiations will depend on the market opening decisions each country takes to the negotiating table, not the concessions they hope to take away from it.”

The founding members of the Tasman Transparency Group invite others interested in global trade liberalisation and the improvement in living standards that liberalisation brings, to endorse the initiative and promote debate at appropriate forums and with Governments and their agencies.

“We are asking the Australian and New Zealand Governments to advocate the proposal outside the WTO – including in APEC, the World Bank, IMF, OECD and UNCTAD – and to sponsor at least one international meeting to discuss the proposal prior to the next APEC leaders’ meeting, which Australia is hosting, in September 2007,” the Group concluded.

Copy of “An Initiative to Strengthen the WTO” is attached.



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