The protectionist policies have resulted in the global economy losing at least $170bn a year, which could have been saved, had the Doha Round (of the WTO trade talks) been a success, says Qatar’s deputy foreign minister

 By Santhosh V Perumal/Business Reporter

 

Qatar yesterday voiced concern over the protectionist policies of developed nations and added that these countries did not have the moral grounds to ask developing countries to ease the barriers.

“It is no longer acceptable to ask the developing countries to reduce tariffs and open their markets to the developed world when the industrialised countries continue with their protectionist measures,” Deputy Prime Minister HE Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud told the World Trade Agenda (WTA), which was organised in conjunction with the 8th World Chambers Congress, that begins today.

The protectionist policies have resulted in the global economy losing at least $170bn a year, which could have been saved, had Doha Round (of the WTO trade talks) been a success, he said.

The ICC and the Qatar Chamber had last year launched the ICC Business WTA in response to calls from WTO members and from 620 leaders for fresh approaches following an impasse in the multilateral trade negotiations.

All the member states of the WTO should have the right to conduct a national dialogue with the people to determine their needs and priorities and the role of international trade in their lives, the deputy premier said, asking the developed countries to desist from putting pressure on the developing world to ease market access.

The Doha Development Round, which was launched in 2001, was designed to support the global economy and help developing countries and least developed countries to integrate into the global economy, he pointed out.

ICC honorary chairman Victor K Fung said the potential gains in terms of exports, jobs and gross domestic product (GDP) growth from multilateral trade liberalisation are “substantial”.

“For these reasons, international business strongly encourages political leaders to steer clear of protectionism and nationalism and return to building inclusive open trade to stimulate global recovery and growth for many years to come,” he said.

Seeking the revival of the Doha Round, al-Mahmoud said one of the main reasons for establishing the WTO in 1995 was to bring about a real and balanced development of all member states through trade liberalisation.

Trade liberalisation came as a means but not as a goal, while the goal is economic development and prosperity by allowing developing countries and least-developed countries to integrated into the global economy and enhance employment, he said.

But the current reality — 18 years after the establishment of the WTO — confirms that the developing countries and least developed countries have not largely improved their economic conditions, while the major economies faced the global financial crisis in 2008, he said.

“ICC has consulted with business around the world to develop a set of practical steps for reaching a new trade consensus,” ICC chairman Gerard Worms said, adding “as the actors of trade in the daily marketplace, we are well placed to shed new light on stalled talks”. Page 39