WTO's Lamy praises Obama's trade comments

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - President Barack Obama’s comments on increasing trade and doubling exports to boost the U.S. economy go in the right direction, the head of the World Trade Organization said on Thursday.

Pascal Lamy, director-general of the WTO, told reporters it was too early to tell whether leaders of the main economies would make good on their commitment in the G20 to conclude world trade liberalization talks this year.

Asked about Obama’s comments in his State of the Union address to Congress, Lamy said: “I have detected more attention to the macroeconomic side of what he wants to do, and including the trade side, not least because increasing exports is also a way to stimulate the U.S. economy. On this what I read in the State of the Union address goes in the right direction.”

Obama said he would push for a WTO agreement that opened up global markets but he avoided mention of the target date agreed by G20 leaders of a deal in 2010.

Lamy voiced understanding for the political constraints on Obama and on Chinese leaders.

“Everybody must understand the way the U.S. system works and the sort of problems Obama has with Congress. Everybody must understand the sort of problems the Chinese leadership has with still a lot of poor people living in rural areas,” he said.

“Nobody can pretend that Obama can do things overnight because he has to live through a political legitimation process which is very complex in a federal state,” he said.

Reporting by Paul Taylor, editing by Mike Peacock