BALI // Pascal Lamy, the head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) today called on countries to resist protectionist policies after revealing that "good progress" has been made towards relaunching the stalled Doha round of free trade talks. Speaking on the Indonesian island of Bali, where trade ministers from 19 agricultural exporting countries are meeting in an effort to spur global trade, the WTO director general said officials were looking for an agreement to provide "necessary political energy" to restart the Doha round.
"We have to try to finish these negotiations and we are 80 per cent of the way there," Mr Lamy said in an interview with CNBC. "But quite a bit of political energy is needed to complete the process." The Doha trade talks began eight years ago in Qatar, and stalled last year from disagreements mainly between the US, China and India. On the sidelines, US and Indian trade negotiators met in a bid to revive the negotiations. Ron Kirk, the US trade representative, held talks with Anand Sharma, the new Indian trade minister, and Mr Lamy.
Mr Kirk also briefly met the Chinese delegation. He declined to comment, but Mr Sharma said the talks were "positive". "There's a shared and expressed commitment to take the negotiations forward and to work together for the resumption of the negotiations to see the successful conclusion of the Doha round," said Mr Sharma. Developing countries, including China and India, want the industrialised world to scrap agricultural export subsidies, while western powers are seeking greater access for their products in emerging markets.
"We are not looking at the difficulties, we are looking at the possibilities, to do our best and take this process to its culmination," Mr Sharma said. "There are no obstacles that are insurmountable." * with Dow Jones and Agence France-Presse