Sun, Nov 19, 2006 - Page 11 News List

G20 finance chiefs agree on reviving Doha Round

THINKING GLOBAL Hailing it as a tool that acts in the interest of all, the chairman of the G20 meeting said members would do everything they can to revive the talks


Outnumbered police officers shelter behind their truck as masked protesters attack them with rubbish bins and bottles during the protest at the G20 finance summit in Melbourne yesterday. Police armed with batons and riot shields stopped the rampage in central Melbourne where G20 finance ministers and central bank chiefs are meeting.


Finance chiefs and central bankers from the Group of 20 economies strongly agree on the need to revive stalled world trade talks, Australian Treasurer Peter Costello said yesterday.

"The Doha round has been discussed and [there was] very strong agreement that we will do whatever we can to get that round up and running," Costello told reporters at a news conference during the G20's annual meeting.

"The Doha round is in the interests of all countries in the world, including developing countries," he said.

Trade barriers

Costello, the chairman of the G20 meeting, was referring to WTO negotiations aimed at a global agreement on dismantling trade barriers that broke up in July amid a US-Europe dispute over farm subsidies.

The current round of trade talks are known officially as the Doha Development Agenda after the Qatari capital where they were launched in 2001.

Finance ministers and central bankers from 19 countries and the EU, plus top officials of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, were attending the annual summit of the G20.

Earlier yesterday, IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato said that political leadership is all that is required to make the final push to wrap up an agreement.

"When we look at what has been achieved already in the Doha round we can see that what has been achieved is very substantial and is worthwhile," de Rato told reporters.

"And when we look at what is needed to craft a deal the differences are not so big anymore," he said. "So this is a very clear case of political leadership to overcome very concrete vested interests."

The IMF chief also said that protectionism is a risk to the global economy.

He cited "a very big responsibility of the big countries, the G7, certainly Europe, Japan and the United States" in moving to conclude the Doha round as well as "some important responsibility on some very large emerging economies."

Besides the need to work to revive stalled world trade talks, reform of the IMF, rising global interest rates, the Chinese and Japanese currency levels and efforts to economically isolate nuclear-armed North Korea are also expected to be discussed by G20 members, along with China and India's surging demand for oil and minerals, which are fanning concerns about unstable supplies and market distortions.

The G20, which was formed in 1999, includes the Group of Seven advanced industrial countries and the EU as well as China, Brazil, India, Russia, South Korea, Argentina, Australia, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey.

Together, the G20 members represent about 90 percent of the world's gross national product, 80 percent of the worlds' trade and two-thirds of its population.

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