July 9, 2006

World Bank urges global trade breakthrough at G8

By Gilbert Le Gras

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Global trade talks are on the cusp
of collapse and leaders of the world's most powerful
industrialized and developing countries must break the impasse
at a summit in Russia next week, World Bank President Paul
Wolfowitz wrote in a letter to each leader.

"With time running out, our collective efforts can make the
difference," he said in a letter sent on Friday to leaders of
the Group of Eight rich industrialized nations and five major
developing economies due to meet in St. Petersburg on July 17.

The meeting of leaders from the United States, Japan,
Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia comes two
weeks after trade ministers met in Geneva but failed to resolve
any differences over farm and industrial goods which, along
with services, make up the three pillars of the talks.

"We can work to lift millions from poverty, boost
developing country income, improve global market access and
reduce taxpayer and consumer costs for all, or allow the whole
effort to collapse, with harm to everyone," Wolfowitz wrote.

The meetings begin on July 15 and end on July 17, when the
leaders of China, Brazil, India, South Africa, Mexico, the
African Union and international organizations are scheduled to
meet with their Group of Eight counterparts -- the G8 plus 5.

The so-called Doha development round started almost five
years ago with a mandate of lifting millions of people out of
poverty through freer trade and enhanced global growth.

Poorer nations have long insisted that richer countries
must open their agriculture markets before they will open their
industrial and services markets.

Wolfowitz called on all sides to make further concessions.

"Next week, a collective pledge by the U.S. to reduce
agriculture subsidies, by the (European Union) to improve
market access and the + 5 Members to limit tariffs on
manufactures ... could help seal a deal," Wolfowitz wrote.

Full trade liberalization could generate $300 billion a
year in additional world economic production with developing
countries gaining up to $86 billion, dwarfing annual bilateral
assistance efforts, he said.

"The world's poorest people, the 1.2 billion living on less
than $1 a day, are counting on your good intentions being
transformed into decisive action, just as last year when your
resolute political leadership launched the historic
Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative," he added in reference to
the outcome of the G8's Gleneagles summit in Scotland.