U.S. News

G8 Appeals for WTO Trade Deal; EU Sees Urgency

By Reuters

G8 leaders called for a prompt conclusion to long-delayed global free trade talks on Friday and the head of the European Commission said they displayed more urgency than in a failed push a year ago.

"We...call on all WTO members to demonstrate constructive flexibility to bring these negotiations to a prompt successful conclusion," said a statement issued by Germany in its role as president of the G8 group of industrialised countries.

"The time has come to translate the continued commitment on political level into tangible results," said the statement issued at the end of a summit.

Four trade powers -- the European Union, the United States, India and Brazil -- will meet for five days in Germany from June 19 in what could be a last-gasp attempt at a breakthrough in the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Doha round.

It was launched more than five years ago in a bid to steady the global economy after the 2001 attacks on the United States, and to help developing countries trade their way out of poverty.

But the negotiations have floundered on arguments about how to bring down barriers to commerce, especially in farm and industrial goods. Without a breakthrough soon, the round could be put on hold for several more years, negotiators have warned.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the G8 leaders treated the WTO impasse with more importance than at a similar meeting last year when they called for progress in the talks only for them to be suspended shortly afterwards.

"Last year everybody said it was necessary to make an effort but there was not the sense of urgency," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters on Friday.

"I believe we can have an agreement if now all of us are coherent with the statements made around the table," he said.