Conclude Doha to check mushroom growth of RTAs; Lamy

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New Delhi, Sept 12 (UNI) Expressing concern over proliferation of regional trade agreements (RTAs), World Trade Organisation chief Pascal Lamy has called for concluding the ongoing Doha round of global trade talks to forestall negative aspects of regional agreements and to promote multilateralisation.

In his opening address at the conference on ''Multilateralizing Regionalism'', which concludes in Geneva today, he said a successful Doha Round would help to refocus governments' attention on their broader global trade interests. It would also further reduce the scope for discriminatory trade policy.

Mr Lamy said the transparency decision negotiated in the Doha Round also reflects growing concern over the consequences of RTA proliferation.

He reminded members not to forget the negotiating mandate under Doha to look at the WTO rules governing regionalism. The WTO chief called for redoubling efforts to conclude the negotiations to check burgeoning regionalism.

At the same time, Mr Lamy suggested looking systematically at the characteristics and design of RTAs to find out whether their architecture is likely to foster multilateralisation in the future.

He also underlined the need to look at the manner in which RTAs operate, and what effects they have on trade opening and on the creation of new economic opportunities.

It is estimated that more than 200 regional agreements are operating and dozens more are in the making.

He urged participants in the conference to ask how policymakers, traders and businesses think about, and react to, the explosion of regionalism. For himself, Mr Lamy felt proliferation of regional agreements is ''breeding concern about incoherence, confusion, exponential increase of costs for business, unpredictability and even unfairness in trade relations.'' He wondered if the tangle of overlapping trade agreements will lead to multilateralising regional arrangements, or coalescing them into larger entities so as to bring them closer to a multilateral system.


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