Mon, Aug 07, 2006 - Page 12 News List

WTO talks could reopen in a few months

CNA , TAIPEI

The WTO's Doha Round of negotiations, which collapsed last month, will not be suspended indefinitely but may take at least five or six months to reopen, a senior economic official said yesterday.

Steve Chen (陳瑞隆), who was last Friday named as the next minister of economic affairs, said that the Doha Round setback dealt a big blow to the multilateral trade mechanism and to Taiwan, which relies heavily on the export market for its economic development.

Chen was previously involved in the nation's foreign trade negotiations.

He said the GATT, the WTO's predecessor, had contributed significantly to global trade, from which Taiwan had also benefited.

If multilateralism suffers as a result of the setback in the Doha Round, it will negatively affect the trade and economic liberalization agenda -- which will not only hurt export-oriented Taiwan but also other developing countries, he added.

Because of the severe consequences, Chen said he believed that the talks would not be delayed indefinitely, although his most upbeat forecast was a delay of five to six months before talks would be reopened.

Bureau of Foreign Trade Director Huang Chih-peng (黃志鵬) said that even if talks were to resume, it would be difficult to predict how much could be achieved from the Doha Round, which was supposed to agree on lowering tariffs on farm products, cutting farm subsidies and decreasing tariffs on agricultural and fishery products.

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