Glos downbeat on WTO meeting expectations

12th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

12 December 2005, BERLIN - German Economics Minister Michael Glos admitted his government was downbeat on chances for any substantial progress at World Trade Organization (WTO) talks opening Tuesday in Hong Kong.

12 December 2005

BERLIN - German Economics Minister Michael Glos admitted his government was downbeat on chances for any substantial progress at World Trade Organization (WTO) talks opening Tuesday in Hong Kong.

"We will have to be very happy if this conference is not declared to have been a failure," said Glos in remarks to reporters on Monday before leaving for Hong Kong.

Glos said there would not be any final deal at the December 13 to 18 ministerial meeting - a view shared by the new WTO director general, Pascal Lamy.

Defending a European Union decision not to make a new offer on farm subsidies to kick-start the meeting, Glos said, "We have gone very far (with our previous offer) and now it's up to the others."

He especially singled out Brazil and India which he complained "have not made a serious offer to cut tariffs on industrial goods".

Glos also criticized Australia for "very aggressive" demands on opening markets for agricultural products.

"Given all this the expectations for Hong Kong are reduced. There won't be any final breakthrough but we hope for greatest possible progress," he said.

Glos underlined that Germany - the world's third biggest economy after the U.S. and Japan - had an urgent interest in a WTO accord to further liberalize world trade.

Ministers from the 148 WTO member states have spent the last four years squabbling over removing tariffs, eliminating quotas and ending farming subsidies since the Doha round of trade negotiations was launched in the capital of Qatar in November 2001.

Asked if Hong Kong talks might go into overtime beyond the December 18 deadline, Glos insisted this would not be possible for technical reasons.

"The facilities have only been booked through that day," he said.

Glos said he doubted if protests by anti-globalization groups in Hong Kong would come anywhere close to matching those which overshadowed the 1999 Seattle meeting.

"America has a slightly different political system (than Hong Kong) and this will have an impact on protesters ... starting with the granting of visas," Glos said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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