Business pleads for 2010 trade deal amid skepticism

Thu Jan 28, 2010 7:26am EST
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By Paul Taylor and Tamora Vidaillet

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Global business leaders appealed to governments on Thursday to make good on their commitment to conclude stalled trade liberalization talks this year and boost a world economic recovery.

But trade negotiators were skeptical of the political will to overcome disputes between the United States and key emerging nations that thwarted a deal in 2008, before the financial crisis plunged much of the world into recession.

U.S. mid-term congressional elections in November and a Brazilian presidential election are among political hurdles.

The International Business Council called at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos for world leaders to follow through on their pledge made at last September's Pittsburgh G20 summit to clinch a trade deal in 2010.

"This is a time for governments around the world to show commitment to the system which has helped create growth and development in the last 60 years," the IBC said in a statement, adding that a trade pact would "put decent jobs at the heart of the recovery."

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who heads the G20 grouping of major economies this year, vowed in an address to the Davos forum to put the issue at the top of the agenda of a G20 summit he will host in Seoul in November.

"In particular, concluding the Doha Development Agenda before the end of the year should be given the highest priority," he said of World Trade Organization negotiations launched in 2001 in the Qatari capital.

U.S. President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address on Wednesday he would push for a world trade agreement that opened up global markets, but he did not mention the 2010 target date set by the G20.   Continued...