Cameron and Merkel Create Experts Group to Promote Trade

3 November 2010

The United Kingdom and Germany are creating an "experts group" charged with looking at ways to promote trade liberalisation and revive the WTO's struggling Doha Round of trade talks. The group is to be headed by Peter Sutherland, who headed the GATT through the end of the earlier Uruguay Round trade negotiations before becoming the WTO's first director-general, together with Jagdish Bhagwati, one of the world's leading proponents of free trade and a professor of economics and law at Columbia University.

In a joint statement released following talks over the weekend in the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor Angela Merkel said that "[t]rade is the engine of global growth. That is why we have put boosting trade and tackling trade barriers high on our governments' agendas and want to see a strong political commitment to liberalising trade at the Seoul G20 summit." They expressed hope that the group would contribute to boosting trade and the recover from the global financial and economic crisis.

Downing Street said the group would be asked to "assess the current environment for trade and to recommend the priority political and regulatory steps needed to increase global trade flows in the short and medium term." In particular, it would be asked to "present an analysis of the global welfare potential at stake in the various options for the conclusion of the Doha Round," and to "define a longer term approach to trade liberalisation and regional integration in support of the multilateral trading system, including steps to tackle regulatory, administrative and physical barriers to trade."

The group, which is also being sponsored by Turkey and Indonesia, is expected to report early next year.

ICTSD reporting; "WTO Head Joins Up With India Professor Over Doha Trade Talks," THE GUARDIAN, 31 October 2010; "UK and Germany Seek Ways to Boost Global Trade," REUTERS, 31 October 2010.

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