Missed Doha targets hurt G20 credibility: former WTO chief

28th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

World leaders should stop announcing targets on concluding the Doha Round which they are unable to keep as this dents credibility, former World Trade Organization chief Supachai Panitchpakdi said on Friday.

"There've been announcements on the DDA (Doha Development Round) everytime (the G20 leaders) met, without any due action," said Supachai, who was WTO director-general between 2002 and 2005.

"I think this has created a sort of loss of credibility -- when the leaders of the world meet and they pronounce something like this and nothing moves," added Supachai, now head of the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

"I think the leaders should not be making any announcements, what they should be doing is try to make space for the negotiators to finish the round," he said, adding that "instructions must be sent here in Geneva."

Leaders of the Group of 20 developed and emerging economies have said in November 2008 that they would reach agreement by the end of the same year on modalities -- which are a broad outline of the final trade liberalisation deal.

But two years later, the Doha Round which began in 2001 in the Qatari capital, remains mired in disagreements between developed countries and developing economies on tariff cuts and reductions of farm subsidies.

Meanwhile, asked for his views on Spain's debt woes, Supachai said that the country's sovereign debt was "manageable."

He said: "What Spain will have to take care of is something along the lines of what's happened in the US, which is the fallout from the mortgages.

"Some of the Spanish banks are very sound, some of them will have to be taken care of because of their investment in some of the papers of their real estate boom."

Spanish banks got off relatively lightly from the subprime mortgage crisis in 2008 as the country's strict regulations meant they did not invest heavily in the high-risk loans that hurt financial institutions elsewhere.

But many, especially smaller unlisted saving banks which are usually controlled by regional politicians, were badly hit by the collapse of the country's once-booming property market in late 2008, both through loans to developers and mortgages.

On May 22, the Bank of Spain said it was taking over the running of CajaSur, a regional savings bank controlled by the Roman Catholic Church, after it experienced financial difficulties.

© 2010 AFP

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