Zoellick says plans for mini-Doha deal 'defeatist'
World Bank chief Robert Zoellick attacked plans Monday to accept a watered down World Trade Organization free trade deal in place of an overall accord, saying this was defeatist.
"The fate and state of the Doha Round is deeply disappointing," Zoellick said on the opening day of a WTO review conference.
"If leading negotiators think small, they will act small and they (will) miss big opportunities. Dumbing down Doha is defeatist.
"A mini-deal won't do much for growth and it will leave the WTO behind the big changes that we're touching on today," Zoellick said.
Launched in the Qatari capital in 2001, the Doha Round of negotiations for a global free trade deal has stalled amid disagreements between developed and developing countries over proposed tariff cuts on industrial goods and subsidy reductions in the farm sector.
Member states are now considering a mini-deal on areas specific to the poorest states by December but Zoellick believes that negotiators should still aim for the bigger goal.
"I urge the WTO ... to think big again. Otherwise, the trade agenda will switch elsewhere," he warned.
In particular, Zoellick called for US leadership in getting a deal.
"In my view, it would be good if a key developed country could or would lead," noted the former US trade chief.
The United States could make concessions, Zoellick pointed out, since it is "going to be cutting its agriculture subsidies as part of" current talks in Washington on the public finances.
US farm subsidies are among key sticking points holding up a Doha deal.
The World Bank chief suggested that the United States or a group of countries could come up with a package, and get others such as China which has an interest in Doha, to support it.
"My view is, at a minimum, it is good for the big countries to try this," he said.
"I think this is a very serious moment. It's kind of a deathwatch now ... more and more people are saying -- 'let's put Doha to bed.'
"I offer an alternative -- it's time ... to act bold and to be bold and to double down on Doha," Zoellick urged.
© 2011 AFP