WTO's Moore: Manufacturing Needs To Be Heart Of Trade Talks

By John S. McClenahen The Bush Administration has made a new round of world trade talks a U.S. economic priority. The 15-nation European Union (EU) is pressing for a new round of negotiations. And now Mike Moore, the director general of the Geneva-based World Trade Organization (WTO), is adding his public voice to the cause. Noting that the world's 49 least-developed countries, with 10.5% of the world's population, account for less than 1% of world exports, Moore contends "the development argument for a round is one of the most compelling." For the U.S., where calls for protection of such basic products as steel and textiles are now increasing, that ironically translates further opening, not closing, of markets. So far preliminary work on a new global round of negotiations has focused on agricultural trade and trade in insurance, banking, and other services. Moore, however, wants manufacturing added, arguing that "manufacturing has to be at the heart of a new round if it is to truly benefit developing countries." Moore cites a World Bank study that estimates that barriers to their manufacturing exports account for about 70% of the total export barriers developing countries face. The same study, he says, projects that 75% of the benefits from further liberalization of trade in manufactured goods would go to developing countries. A new round of world trade talks could be launched in November, when a WTO conference of trade representatives is slated to meet in the Middle East emirate of Qatar. "But all WTO members still need to find the courage to go the final mile," trade-liberalizer Moore believes. "It is all too easy to pay lip-service for a new round without showing the necessary flexibility. It is all too easy to lose sight of the overwhelming national good is the defense of narrow, special interests. And it is all to easy to allow the WTO to cop the blame for national failings and to fail to explain, and explain again, the case for trade liberalization to voters."

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