Times 2

Leaders call for global trade deal this year

By Jonathan Lynn

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 28 (Reuters) - World leaders have appealed for all nations to make concessions and reach a deal on long-running trade talks by the end of this year or risk losing the opportunity for years.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told the Davos World Economic Forum it was “frankly ridiculous” that the Doha round of world trade talks had so far limped on for a decade. “We simply cannot spend another 10 years going round in circles,” he said. “...I call on every world leader to join me. We've got one last chance to get this right -- 2011 is the make or break year.”

Cameron spoke alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and World Trade Organisation (WTO) chief Pascal Lamy. “The right answers in this crisis must also be to reduce barriers”, Merkel said. “...the cheapest way to boost our competitiveness and to give a boost to our economic development is free trade”.

Yudhoyono said that “fair, free and open trade is more important than aid” for developing nations. The European Union, the world's biggest exporter, hosted a dinner on Friday for trade ministers from the other key players — Australia, Brazil, China, India, Japan and the United States – in Davos.

The seven will take stock of the Doha round. Members of the World Trade Organization have agreed to intensify the pace of negotiations, already in their 10th year, after the G20 urged them to use 2011 as a window of opportunity to reach a deal.

But a warning from the trade ministers of Brazil, India, China and South Africa ahead of the dinner underlined just how difficult compromise could be. The four ministers said concessions already made by their emerging economies were not being matched by rich countries, who were now demanding more, and that such demands jeopardised efforts to conclude the Doha round.

Friday's dinner will be followed by a broader meeting of about 25 trade ministers on Saturday. A report by trade experts presented at Friday's panel discussion recommended heads of government get personally involved in reaching a Doha trade deal and set themselves an end-year deadline to achieve it. “What is already on offer is a package that would provide a global economic stimulus of hundreds of billions of dollars in new trade annually,” the report's preface said.

“Everyone would gain”. The Doha round was launched in late 2001 to boost the world economy and help poor countries prosper through trade.

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