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Davos focus shifts to trade deal

Global business leaders appealed to governments on Thursday to make good on their commitment to conclude stalled trade liberalisation talks this year and boost a world economic recovery.

business Updated: Jan 28, 2010 20:33 IST

Global business leaders appealed to governments on Thursday to make good on their commitment to conclude stalled trade liberalisation talks this year and boost a world economic recovery.

But trade negotiators were sceptical of the political will to overcome disputes between the United States and key emerging nations that thwarted a deal in 2008, before the financial crisis plunged much of the world into recession.

US mid-term congressional elections in November and a Brazilian presidential election are among political hurdles.

The International Business Council called at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos for world leaders to follow through on their pledge made at last September’s Pittsburgh G20 summit to clinch a trade deal in 2010.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who heads the G20 grouping of major economies this year, vowed in an address to the Davos forum to put the issue at the top of the agenda of a G20 summit he will host in Seoul in November.

“In particular, concluding the Doha Development Agenda before the end of the year should be given the highest priority,” he said of World Trade Organisation negotiations launched in 2001 in Qatar.

US President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he would push for a world trade agreement that opened up global markets, but he did not mention the 2010 target date set by the G20.

Egyptian Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid said he did not expect a deal this year because the economic crisis had raised Western fears about the impact of trade liberalisation.

“It’s obvious that with unemployment in the United States and Europe, it is going to be tougher to have discussions on free trade,” he said.