IMF nations urge speedy WTO deal

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 03:43:16 Leading industrial and developing nations have urged major international players to reach a speedy world trade deal to end the six-year deadlock.

Citing the threat of protectionism, a 24-nation group in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Saturday welcomed the latest agreement by six powers to resume talks on the so-called Doha round of world trade talks, DPA reported.

"The global economy risks from a possible rise in protectionism and the substantial foregone growth, should the Doha Round fail make trade policy a key medium-term concern," the IMF members said in a statement.

Saturday's meeting in Washington gathered finance officials from most major economic powers, including the United States, the European Union, Japan, Brazil, India and China also known as G6.

The G6 agreed Thursday in Indian capital New Delhi to resume talks that can pave the way for a breakthrough in global talks under the World Trade Organization (WTO), which stalled last year with the US and the EU blaming each other for the collapse.

WTO talks aimed at liberalizing world trade stalled mainly because the US, European nations and other WTO members such as Brazil and India were unable to reach agreement on key issues such as farm tariffs.

The talks were re-launched in January, but major sticking points remain unresolved, in particular the US refusal to reduce its agricultural subsidies to farmers. The demand for cuts is supported by the EU and the G-20 group of countries that includes India and Brazil.

The IMF called on WTO members to work with a renewed commitment to urgently achieve an ambitious outcome.

There is also a sense of urgency around the talks with the US president's special authority to fast-track trade deals set to expire on June 1. Once that authority lapses, US negotiators will have to go back to the Congress to seek approval for any concession they want to make at the trade talks.

This is while British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown has said a WTO agreement is critical to guarantee that the benefits of globalization are widely shared.

Meanwhile, German anti-globalization groups are preparing for a series of violent and non-violent protests during the upcoming G8 summit, scheduled to take place in the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm from June 6-8.

"There is an ongoing debate among anti-globalization groups as to how to protest during the G8 summit. Some are calling for soft actions but some are calling for more violent measures such as blocking airports and throwing stones," said the spokesman of a Berlin-based non-government agency (Venro), Gerhard Gad during a recent press briefing.

"Groups like Attac have harsher positions," he added.

More than 100,000 people are expected to demonstrate against the G8 summit as a record number of over 16,000 police will be ready to contain the protest wave, making it the largest security operation in the history of Germany.

Protestors hope to stage a sit-in at the military airport in the northern city of Rostock-Laage where the G8 delegations are due to land, in a bid to block their arrival.

Anti-G8 demonstrators will include also labor union, pro- environment, student, pacifist and radical leftist groups.


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