G20 extends protectionism ban, looks for ways to Doha deal
The Group of 20 (G20) leading developed and developing nations on Sunday agreed to extend a ban on protectionism until at least 2013 as they looked for ways to revive the stalled Doha round of trade-liberalisation talks, DPA reported.
World powers initially adopted the ban at the first-ever G20 summit in Washington in November 2008, as the world financial crisis bit deep. With the world now moving out of recession, Sunday's summit focused on measures to make sure that the recovery continues.
"We renew for a further three years, until the end of 2013, our commitment to refrain from raising barriers or imposing new barriers to investment or trade in goods and services," leaders said.
G20 members, who include such powers as China, the European Union, India, Russia and the United States, will also "minimize any negative impact on trade and investment of our domestic policy actions, including fiscal policy and action to support the financial sector," according to their statement.
Summit leaders stressed that freeing up trade would be one of the best ways to promote future growth.
The head of the EU's executive, Jose Manuel Barroso, urged leaders to focus on completing the Doha round of World Trade Organization talks. Experts say that a Doha deal would put billions of dollars into the world economy, but talks have been stalled for years.
"Do we or don't we want Doha? I hear we all want to, so we need to engage seriously," Barroso said, calling the deal "the most growth-friendly, tax-friendly and consumer-friendly tool available.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, meanwhile, said that it was a "disgrace" that the talks, which began in 2001, have still not reached a deal.
"We are not making progress. We need to try to do things in a different way," he said.
In a sign of the search for a way out of the negotiating impasse, Cameron said that US President Barack Obama had proposed "expanding" the talks to give negotiators more room to broker compromises.
However, Obama himself warned that the US was no longer ready to be the world's main economic driver by borrowing hugely and spending the money on imports.
"After years of taking on too much debt, Americans cannot and will not buy and borrow our way" to broader world wealth, he said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, meanwhile, said that he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had called for a "change in method" to make summits of world leaders the top venue for Doha talks.
Sarkozy has a long record of calling for summits, having already demanded such meetings on the economic crisis, the reform of European security treaties, the management of the eurozone, cooperation in the Mediterranean and Russia's 2008 invasion of Georgia.
The summit statement only called on negotiators to "pursue the objective" of a Doha deal and report back at the next summit in Seoul in November.