Home>News Center>World

Hong Kong official: Failed WTO summit would be "disastrous"
Updated: 2005-11-11 17:07

Hong Kong's top trade negotiator warned Friday that if the World Trade Organization's ministerial meeting next month fails, it would be a disaster for small nations and the global trading system.

John Tsang spoke as hopes for an ambitious meeting in Hong Kong were quickly fading amid squabbles over agricultural subsidies. Talks held earlier this week in Europe failed to produce agreements that many hoped would pave the way for a successful year-end summit in Hong Kong.

Tsang noted that the last WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico, collapsed in 2003 amid bickering and acrimony _ and warned that that must not happen again at the December 13-18 summit here.

"If we were to have two failed ministerials in the row, the whole multilateral system would lose its credibility and that would be disastrous for the world because the world is mainly composed of small members," Tsang said at Hong Kong's Foreign Correspondents' Club.

He added that if the WTO loses its authority, small countries would not have a forum in which they could deal with bigger countries as equals. The 148-member WTO sets rules for global trade and helps members resolve trade disputes.

"The small members will be at a disadvantage if they have to deal with big countries one on one. Only in a multilateral system would you be on an equal footing with everyone else," said Tsang, secretary for commerce, industry and technology.

Many hoped the Hong Kong meeting would resolve many of the issues that have been blocking the Doha round of trade talks _ named for the Qatari capital where it was launched in 2001. The talks have already fallen well behind their original deadline of December 2004.

Tsang said that next month's meeting "is an important springboard to get us to the final stretch" of the current round of talks.

He added, "My sense is that the 148 members are very keen to have an agreement, but they're not sure how much they want to pay for it."

Liberia poised to have Africa's first-ever elected female president
Former Indian president passes away
Suicide bombers kill 57 at Jordan hotels
  Today's Top News     Top World News

Beijing: Bush-Dalai Lama meeting negative



US$1.7b deals dominate Hu's German agenda



Three Chinese killed in Jordan bombing



US embassy retracts terror warning



Migratory birds come under microscope



China: Topping US in medals 'impossible'


  First phase of six-party talks concludes with chairman's statement
  US, EU tentatively back Russian atom plan for Iran
  Angry Jordanians rally to protest bombings
  US voices hope Japan can join UN Security Council
  Poll: Most Americans say Bush not honest
  President: Syria will cooperate with UN
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
HK to attend WTO group meeting
US firms benefit with China in WTO
Japan says may impose duties on U.S. goods
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?  
Manufacturers, Exporters, Wholesalers - Global trade starts here.