WASHINGTON (AFP) – President George W. Bush said Friday his administration is prepared to make “serious concessions” to help achieve a global trade liberalization pact if other countries reciprocate.
Bush said after talks with Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd that he remains committed to the foundering Doha Round of talks of the World Trade Organization to further ease global trade barriers.
Bush said that during his talks with Rudd, “I said it’s possible to achieve a Doha round. He, too, believes we should work to achieve a Doha round.”
The US president added: “I informed him that we’re willing to make serious concessions on the agricultural front but we expect other nations to open up their markets on manufacturing as well as services.”
The Doha round of talks, launched in the Qatari capital in 2001 and aimed at liberalizing world trade as well as boosting development, were due to be completed by 2004, but have stalled amid disagreements between developed and emerging economies. Some WTO members still see hope for a deal this year.
Developing countries have been pressing for greater access to agricultural markets in the industrialized world while wealthier nations are in return seeking better access for their manufactured products.
The WTO plans to convene a ministerial meeting in April aimed at forging a North-South consensus on trade in farm and manufactured goods with the hope of wrapping up the Doha talks by the end of the year.
Rudd said he also supported the effort to complete the Doha Round of talks.
“My own view is that if ever the global economy needs a psychological injection of some confidence in the arm, it’s now, and that can be delivered by a positive outcome on Doha,” he said at a joint White House appearance with Bush.
“Takes more than two to tango. Takes a lot of people to tango when it comes to the Doha Round .. But what we have agreed, again, as strong, long-term supporters of free trade around the world, as one of the best drivers of global economic growth, is to work very closely together in the months ahead to try and get a good, positive outcome for Doha.”