Resist Protectionism, Says Hong Kong Group

Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Rita Lau, and 10 other ministers responsible for World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round negotiations issued a joint statement calling on WTO members to resist protectionism and conclude negotiations as soon as possible.

The statement, issued at the Ministerial Council Meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, says ministers “are committed to resisting protectionism and reaching an ambitious and balanced conclusion to the Doha Development Round in the shortest possible time.” It continues, “We welcome the important commitments undertaken at the meetings of the G20 in London and the Cairns Group in Bali.”

The ministers stressed the importance of moving the Doha Round forward to a successful conclusion by stating that “the Doha Round has a crucial role to play at this time. Concluding the negotiations will contribute to economic recovery and reinforce the benefits of the multilateral trading system. Reforms resulting from the Round will also provide valuable insurance against the threat of protectionism.”

“Hong Kong has been contributing actively on both fronts of fighting against protectionism and pushing forward the Doha Round negotiations in the WTO,” said Lau. “We will continue to engage with other WTO members to continue with these efforts.”

Lau was joined by WTO members Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Switzerland and Uruguay.

Among the main points, ministers are committed to resisting protectionism and reaching an ambitious and balanced conclusion to the Doha Development Round in the shortest possible time. They welcome the important commitments undertaken at the meetings of the G20 in London and the Cairns Group in Bali, said the statement.

Protectionism can only deepen the current financial crisis and add years to the time for recovery. We must not allow protectionism to prevail over the collective interest or erode the basis of the multilateral trading system embodied in the WTO, the ministers continued.

The Doha Round has a crucial role to play at this time. Conclusion of the Doha Round will contribute to economic recovery, reinforce the benefits of the multilateral trading system, and provide valuable insurance against the threat of protectionism.

The ministers issued a call to action, urging WTO members to show political will to act. “Call on all WTO members to remain vigilant against increased protectionism, to exercise utmost restraint and to rectify promptly any protectionist measures already introduced.”

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