Momentum Gaining For New World Trade Organisation Round

  • Lockwood Smith

"Momentum is growing for a new round of multilateral trade negotiations in the World Trade Organisation," said Trade Minister Lockwood Smith from Budapest, Hungary today.

Dr Smith was in Hungary to attend the Informal Ministerial Meeting of the 'Friends of a New Round'. The 'Friends' are a group of WTO members working to build consensus around the successful launch of a new broad based round of multilateral negotiations at the Third WTO Ministerial Meeting in Seattle in November 1999.

The 'Friends' include Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong-China, Hungary, the Korean Republic, Morocco, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand and Uruguay. In Hungary the Friends Group invited representatives from the Quad (the United States, the European Union, Japan and Canada) and large developing countries (India and Brazil) to join the discussions.

Dr Smith played a key role in the Conference as the Minister responsible for concluding discussion on deciding the outcomes for the Seattle meeting.

"I am confident that a new Round will now happen," said Dr Smith.

"There is widespread agreement that a new Round should build from a core of agriculture and services to include a broad range of negotiations across the global economy. The details will be formulated over the next few months but the presence in Budapest of the four largest economies in the world and key developing countries has given real substance to the preparatory process for a new Round.

"However, people were pragmatic. We agreed that the new Round must be focussed on results, and that three years was an ideal time frame. No one wants a repeat of the seven years it took to get results from the Uruguay Round.

"New Zealand can now look forward to multilateral negotiations launched this December across a broad range of issues of interest to New Zealand exporters," Dr Smith concluded.