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Monday, 7 May, 2001, 06:03 GMT 07:03 UK
New threat of trade talks delay
WTO director general designate Supachai Panitchpakdi
WTO director general designate Supachai Panitchpakdi will take on a tough job
The demands by rich countries to make working conditions and environmental protection part of the next round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks could be damaging, developing countries warned on the weekend.


If the price of going into a new round is to introduce new non-trade topics, that may be risking what we have gained over 50 years

Herminio Blanco Mendoza
Former Mexico trade secretary
"All of us would like the WTO to go forward," said Mexico's former trade secretary Herminio Blanco Mendoza at a conference discussing the WTO's role.

"But if the price of going into a new round is to introduce new non-trade topics, that may be risking what we have gained over 50 years and eight rounds of trade liberalization."

His comments, which were made in Geneva at a preparatory conference ahead of the next round of trade talks in Doha, Qatar in November, mirrored concerns expressed by many developing countries.

Many poor countries worry about being overloaded with obligations that could hinder instead of help their economic growth and development.

Threat of delay

Mr Blanco said he would prefer to delay the planned trade round, due to be held in Doha, Qatar in November, rather than launch discussions that are too broad.


A new round brings huge benefits to all parts of the globe

Mike Moore
WTO director-general
The talks have already been delayed once:

They were due to be held in Seattle in 1999, but the 140 WTO members failed to agree on which areas should be part of the discussions.

WTO's director-general Mike Moore resisted calls for delaying the talks.

He insisted that the sooner trade barriers could be cut, the better for the world economy.

WTO logo
The next round of talks is due in November
If all trade barriers were removed, $1.9 trillion dollars would be added to the world economy, while $613bn would be added if trade barriers were cut by a third, he said.

"Reasonable people can quibble about the exact size of the gains from a new round [of trade talks], but the basic message from study after study is clear," he said.

"A new round brings huge benefits to all parts of the globe."

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See also:

30 Jan 01 | Business
WTO heads for Qatar
02 May 01 | Business
WTO urges US to lift lamb tariffs
27 Mar 01 | Business
World trade talks stall
06 Apr 01 | Business
An end to multilateral trade?
23 Jan 01 | Business
World trade dilemmas
19 Mar 01 | Business
Protesters target Geneva trade talks
05 Mar 01 | Business
China says WTO will hit growth
27 Jan 01 | Business
WTO on the defensive
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