Blair and Bush hope to "re-energise" trade talks

07-08-2006

Tony Blair has said that he and George Bush intend to make "one final effort" to revive deadlocked global trade talks.

The prime minister hopes that such a move will take place within weeks, in a speech delivered to executives of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, at Pebble Beach, California.

Mr Blair revealed that he and the US president decided that action was needed to try to revitalise the stalled World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks following a meeting between the two leaders at the White House on Friday.

"I have not at all given up on the WTO trade round," said the prime minister.

"After a long discussion with George Bush after our press conference on Friday, we both agreed we needed to make one final effort to re-energise the negotiation and I hope we can do so within the next few weeks," he added.

Mr Blair did not elaborate on what form the agreed action might take, but his official spokesman said that "first and foremost" the prime minister would want to consult with those involved in the so-called Doha round.

The global free trade talks, which aim to lift developing countries out of poverty by lowering trade barriers, collapsed on July 24th after more than five years of negotiations due to the failure of trading nations to agree on the question of farm subsidies.

The talks, which are two years behind schedule, have persistently stumbled on both the issue of farm subsidies and tariffs, with developing nations pressing the US and Europe to lower both.

Meanwhile, Washington and Brussels want developing nations to increasingly open up their markets to manufactured imports.

Mr Blair has been a strong supporter of the WTO negotiations. Speaking ahead of the latest meeting between the G8 leading industrialised countries in St Petersburg recently, the prime minister described the contents of the talks as the "single most important issues" delegates would address.


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