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Thu, May 22, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Business groups urge Bush to keep Doha on schedule

AP , WASHINGTON

Six international business lobbying groups urged US President George W. Bush and other world leaders to use their influence to get global trade negotiations back on track.

The Business Roundtable, composed of executives from America's biggest corporations, and similar business groups in Europe, Japan and Canada sent a joint letter on Tuesday to Bush and other leaders of the G8 countries urging them to take up the issue when they meet for their annual economic summit next month in France.

"We reject the pessimism and skepticism expressed in recent months about the prospects for the key midterm meeting in Cancun," the business groups said in the letter, referring to a Sept. 10 to Sept. 14 meeting in Mexico when trade ministers from the 146 member countries of the WTO are scheduled to assess progress so far in the negotiations.

There has been growing concern that the global trade talks, which were launched in Doha, Qatar, at the end of 2001, will fail to meet the deadline of concluding by 2005, in part because of wide disagreements over removing barriers to agricultural trade.

John Castellani, president of the Business Roundtable, said that the G8 leaders need to provide political impetus to get the negotiations back on track.

"At a time when the economies in Europe and Japan are stagnant and the US economy is weak, ensuring that the Doha Round remains on schedule will reassure global companies who are considering new invest-ments," Castellani said.

In addition to the Business Roundtable, other groups signing the letter were the Nippon Keidanren in Japan, the European Round Table of Industrialists, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, the International Chamber of Commerce and the Union of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe.

Bush will meet leaders of the other G8 countries -- Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia -- from June 1 through June 3 in Evian, France.

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