The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Indonesian foreign minister seeking to see $1 trillion global trade bonus in Bali this year

  • Print

DAVOS, Switzerland - Indonesia may hold the key to a $1 trillion injection into the global economy.

That's how much the World Trade Organization believes is riding on talks later this year in Bali, when trade ministers hope to cut through some of the red tape that slows global commerce.

Indonesia's Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told The Associated Press that failure is not an option and that a strong effort is being put in to ensure that the WTO meeting in Bali is "crowned with success."

The current trade talks, known as the Doha Round, began in 2001, and after a decade of little progress for a range of reasons, many had pronounced the negotiations to reduce global trade barriers as dead.

There are hopes that the current fragile state of the world economy, including the debt crisis afflicting the 17 European Union countries that use the euro and unspectacular U.S. growth, may add impetus to the discussions.

"It's very critical now, especially with the difficulties in the global economy, especially in the eurozone," he said of efforts to reach a new global free trade pact. "Trade facilitation becomes a key driver for economic recovery, so this is now even ever more important to what it was before."

Trade ministers from 24 nations met Saturday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos in an unofficial gathering hosted by the Swiss government.

Afterward, Swiss Economic Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann said the group agreed they could reach a tentative agreement on some of the key elements of a global trade deal this summer, in preparation for the ministerial talks in December at Bali.

Schneider-Ammann said he sensed some "optimism" that efforts to streamline customs procedures and other rules to reduce the costs of trade "will be successful."

The ministers agreed to resist protectionism, focus on elements such as trade facilitation and agriculture, and to "take stock" around Easter of the progress being made, Schneider-Ammann said.

"Serious attempts to deliver results in Bali have already started," he added.

The Doha negotiations have been billed as a way of boosting economic development among the poorest countries, by reducing barriers on their exports to wealthier markets.

The WTO's director general, Pascal Lamy, has been telling the Davos gathering of political, business and academic elites that an international trade deal would provide a $1 trillion boost to the global economy. He estimates world trade is worth about $22 trillion.

Flanked by Schneider-Ammann, Lamy told reporters that he believes it is technically "do-able" to craft draft agreements on some of the key elements of a deal by next summer.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said he had to "temper" his enthusiasm for a deal since it has eluded the world for a decade.

Areas of dispute include tariffs on manufactured good, agricultural subsidies, market access and intellectual property rules. Brazil, China and India have resisted U.S. demands to lower taxes on imports of manufactured goods.

"But, at least of the 24 countries represented today, it felt like we had made more substantive progress," Kirk said in an AP interview. "The good news is we've spent a lot of work on a smaller, more realistic package centred around trade facilitation, which can be a huge benefit to developing economies. And it feels like that is starting to bear fruit."

Kirk, who leaves his job next month, said the ministers renewed their commitment "to double down, do what we need to do" to reach a deal in Bali. "I'm as hopeful as I've been in a long time."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Your top TV picks for this weekend - August 22-24

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Two baby tigers were unveiled at the Assiniboine Park Zoo this morning, October 3rd, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • MIKE APORIUS/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS STANDUP - pretty sunflower in field off HWY 206 near Bird's Hill Park Thursday August 09/2007

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Did you suffer any damages from Thursday's storm?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google