Peter Sutherland, the first head of the World Trade Organisation, fears the Doha Round is as good as dead if the world’s main trading and economic powerhouses are unable to agree rules this summer.
“I am despondent,” Sutherland said on Tuesday as he released the final report of the High Level Trade Experts Group, commissioned by British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and co-sponsored by Indonesia and Turkey.
Movement on cutting industrial tariffs, rather than on the more difficult agricultural sector, could be one way to break the Doha deadlock, Sutherland said. Industrial goods cover the largest area of global trade.
He suggested the European Union has done enough to cut agricultural subsidies and industrial tariffs but that it should now liberalise trade in services, including meeting India’s long-standing demand for free movement of labour. He also praised the US for cutting industrial duties by $12 billion — almost half the current amount of duties paid.
According to the report of the group, co-chaired by Sutherland and Prof Jagdish Bhagwati, much of the responsibility in industrial tariffs rests with China.
India, Sutherland said, should offer a ‘zero-for-zero’ tariff commitment in the sector of industrial tools. And “India should raise the profile of the issue by making public statements expressing extreme anxiety if the Round should fail,” added Sutherland.