In his annual report, World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy told members that in a context of greater economic uncertainty and rising global risks, it is all the more important that the process of global trade opening continues. In the light of a worsening of the global economy in recent months, with the forecast for world export growth revised downwards to 5.8% in 2011, Lamy warned that unilateral action to shield domestic industries will not solve global problems but might make things worse by triggering a spiral of tit-for-tat reactions in which every country will lose.
In other news from the World Trade Organization, agriculture negotiators have elected New Zealand Ambassador John Adank as their new chairperson. Ambassador Adank is the eighth chairperson of the agriculture negotiations since trade talks began in March 2000 and the fifth since the talks were brought into the Doha Round in 2001.
Speaking in an informal session after the formal meeting elected him, the new chairperson said the report will be an update of work in the agriculture negotiations since the "Easter package" of all negotiations subjects was presented in April 2011. This will include a smaller group consultation on agriculture in May and more recently consultations on a proposal on cotton for the 15–17 December Ministerial Conference.
"Consultations on cotton have not produced a consensus," Adank said. "The proposal on cotton comes from the "Cotton-4" group made up of Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali. It asks ministers to reaffirm a number of decisions including a commitment to cut distorting subsidies for cotton by more than the reductions on other agricultural products."
The proposal also calls for ministers to freeze at current levels their countries' market-distorting domestic support for cotton. More generally, he said he will consult members on what to do in the agriculture negotiations in early 2012.