DAVOS, Switzerland — Spurred by fears of a global recession, trade ministers from major trading powers, including the U.S., India, Brazil and the European Union, agreed Saturday to a proposal by the global trade chief to meet in late March or early April in Geneva to try and hammer out a breakthrough deal in the stalled Doha talks.
World Trade Organization director general Pascal Lamy and trade ministers from major powers cautioned there were risks for the world economy — including a surge in protectionism, and the talks drifting endlessly for years — if they failed to broker a deal in 2008.
"We decided we will have a WTO ministerial meeting, probably in April," said Doris Leuthard, Swiss economy minister, who hosted a luncheon with ministers from 16 countries and Lamy, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum summit.
Lamy told WEF business leaders and trade ministers that conclusion of the Doha Round, launched in November 2001, "is doable." But he also warned he's not positive that ministers will do it, and stressed a failure in the talks would have adverse implications for world growth and also geopolitical consequences beyond trade.
Senior trade diplomats said new blueprints on how to lower subsidies and tariffs in agriculture and import duties for industrial goods are to be circulated to WTO members by the respective chairman of the talks in the first half of February.
Differences between rich and developing countries over how to proceed to lower trade barriers for agriculture and industrial goods, including textiles and apparel, led to the collapse of the talks in September 2003, and again in the summers of 2006 and 2007.
U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said, "There's a very clear commitment by the Bush administration to see conclusion of the Doha Round in 2008." A deal would also have to deliver new trade flows, Schwab said, and added the only way to get that is to "cut into applied tariffs."
Celso Amorim, Brazil's foreign minister, said there was now a "window of necessity" to try and conclude a deal, and said failure "would give the wrong signals to the global economy. And this will be detrimental to everybody, most of all the developing economies."Similarly, European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said if the round was not concluded this year, it would not be possible in 2009 or even 2010 because the caravan would have moved elsewhere.
He said European business executives are telling him to give the round "a decent burial" if it can't be done in 2008.
Former U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman said in an interview that concluding the Doha Round "is not only politically possible, but politically necessary. In my view, finishing the round is more likely to be successful with this administration."
Similarly, Robert Zoellick, World Bank president, said in an interview, "I think from a global as well as a U.S. perspective, the U.S. should go ahead. There's a good deal on the table. It should conclude the deal, and then it should press the Congress, even with its protectionist impulses, to take the step to support international commerce."
Yesterday, the Parisian fashion house @azzaro_official cut the ribbon on a temeporary retrospective at the wing of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. The exhibition, which shows the lasting influence of the brand’s founder Loris Azzaro, is titled “Azzaro, Fifty Sparkling Years” and presents 50 looks. In it’s ’70s heyday, fans of the brand included Jane Birkin, pictured here, Raquel Welch, Brigitte Bardot and more. See more photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@trinaturk and @macys Inc International Concepts line are linking up on a collection for summer — filled with accessories, swimwear and shoes. The collection will also include a Mr Turk men’s line, both of which are the designer’s first entry into a more accessibly priced area. “It’s very world-traveler, gypset-inspired,” said Turk. The Trina Turk x INC line will launch on May 15th. #wwdfashion
Assouline is paying homage to the late Azzedine Alaïa with a reprint of "Alaïa Livre de Collection.” The book is comprised of photographs of the designer's summer 1992 runway show with models Christy Turlington Burns, Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks, pictured here at right. #wwdfashion #alaia #tyrabanks
Fall 2018 accessories take on a painterly hue, with Nebulas Blue among Pantone’s top 10 colors of the season. (📸: @jonghyupstudio ; editor: @twallz21 ; stylist and set designer: @haideefindlaylevin ) #wwdaccessories
@americanapparelusa is relaunching the brand outside of the U.S. today, opening its online store to more than 200 countries. The company is also contemplating a return to brick-and-mortar, though details have not been confirmed. In tandem with the expanded distribution is a recasting of a social media ad campagn, called “Back to Basics,” pictured here, with a focus on diversity and a cast of models above the age of 21. Read more on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Exclusive: @britneyspears is continuing to expand her brand. The pop icon, who appears in @kenzo ’s latest campaign, is partnering with Epic Rights to launch a line of branded merchandise. Read @hernameislex ‘s story, link in bio. #wwdnews #britneyspears
The Duchess of Cambridge channeled Princess Diana’s look upon giving birth to Prince Harry, when she and the Duke of Cambridge departed the hospital with the new baby Prince this afternoon in London. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge
The new Prince of Cambridge has arrived! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge posed with the 8-pound newborn. She wore a look from one of her go-to designers, @jennypackham. Tap link in bio for more. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge