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Collapse of trade talks an indictment on politics

Hon Dr Lockwood Smith MP National Party Trade Spokesman

15 September 2003

Collapse of trade talks an indictment on politics.

National's Trade Spokesman, Lockwood Smith, says the collapse of the WTO trade talks in Cancun is an indictment on wealthy countries and the political process.

Dr Smith says that there are few issues where the research is more compelling than in the benefits of trade liberalisation.

"In fact, research shows some of the greatest benefits would go to some our of poorer people.

"Despite that overwhelming research evidence, politicians tend to be wary of confronting privileged and protection sectional interests.

"If rational argument and commonsense were to prevail, the trade talks would be a race to eliminate protectionist barriers that do so much harm to the poor and damage hugely the interests of the countries applying protection.

"It is extraordinary that the politicians of the European Union cannot explain to the people of Europe the benefits of radically reforming the common agriculture policy that costs Europe itself in the order of 1%GDP growth, not to mention the millions of jobs."

Dr Smith says the collapse of the talks is not the end of the Doha round.

"What is frightening, though, is that little progress seems to have been made on the big issues such as agriculture, investment and competitive policy since the collapse in Seattle.

"What is now vital is for member governments to direct their Geneva officials to pick up from where things left off in Cancun and develop the negotiating protocols with urgency.

"The consequences of failure in the Doha round are too great to contemplate given the other turbulent issues tending to destabilise the world today," concludes Dr Smith.

Ends


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