The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

In Davos, nations vow to extend global trade deal that cuts red tape

  • Print

DAVOS, Switzerland - Trade ministers from many of the world's biggest economies pledged to broaden a deal to boost global trade Saturday, with the U.S. saying nothing is off-limits for discussion.

At a Swiss-hosted meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, ministers from China, the European Union, Japan, the U.S. and 15 other nations agreed to build on the "positive momentum" of a World Trade Organization summit last December in Bali where the organization's 159 member economies agreed to cut customs red tape.

The ministers agreed to address the most difficult remaining negotiating topics of agriculture, market access and services that eluded an agreement last month in the first WTO deal since the global trade body was formed in 1995, said Swiss Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, who hosted the meeting.

He said the world economic powers agreed to "promptly" build on the Bali agreement with "a particular focus on issues important to least developing countries."

"In order to be able to successfully tackle these topics, fresh and credible approaches will be needed," the Swiss minister said.

WTO Director-General Robert Azevedo said negotiating process must be transparent and inclusive, so every member can have a voice and participate, but that "the do-ability test is very important" in working toward an expanded free-trade deal that balances "ambition and realism."

The Bali deal could boost global trade by $1 trillion over time, and its centerpiece was an agreement on measures to ease barriers to trade by simplifying customs procedures and making them more transparent.

But it also kept alive hopes of eventually accomplishing the WTO's broader Doha Round of trade negotiations, sometimes known as the development round because of sweeping changes in regulations, taxes and subsidies that would benefit low income countries.

And the deal boosted the Geneva-based WTO's credibility and relevance as a forum for governments to negotiate trade agreements and not just as a trade court for international disputes.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told ministers Saturday that "the WTO's first order of business must be to finish what we started," according to a statement from his office.

"It also means agreeing to a work plan as we seek to identify future opportunities for progress," he told them. "The United States is open-minded and we are willing to consider a discussion on any of the outstanding issues."

Japanese Economics Minister Toshimitsu Metegi said Saturday's discussion focused on "how to go forward with the WTO" while also implementing the red tape-cutting provisions previously agreed to in Bali. Japan, he told reporters, has shown "a considerable amount of flexibility" during the trade talks and hopes the U.S. will be similarly flexible at the negotiating table.

The world's biggest powers in trade have also vowed to craft a global deal on free trade in environmental goods to help fight global warming.

U.S., EU, Chinese and Japanese trade ministers were among the group of developed economies that announced the effort a day earlier. Their statement said the economies would focus on green products, technologies and services that the WTO estimates to be worth $1.4 trillion.

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

Jim Flaherty remembered at visitation as irreplaceable

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • A female Mallard duck leads a group of duckings on a morning swim through the reflections in the Assiniboine River at The Forks Monday.     (WAYNE GLOWACKI/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Winnipeg Free Press  June 18 2012

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you agree with the province’s crackdown on flavoured tobacco products?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google