Vol. 5 Num 921 Fri. December 29, 2006  

Wto Doha Round
Put best efforts to earn market access
Speakers say at CPD dialogue

Bangladesh should put its best efforts for early harvest of a market access facility that is free of duty and quota from the Doha Development Round (DDR) under WTO, speakers at a dialogue in Dhaka suggested yesterday.

They said the country should get prepared and lay emphasis more on aid for trade issue so that a substantial chunk of aid can be attained to develop its trade infrastructure.

The dialogue on Current Status of the Doha Round Talks: Next Steps for Bangladesh was orrganised by Centre For Policy Dialogue (CPD), a think tank, at the Brac Centre Inn.

Chaired by CPD Chairman Professor Rehman Sobhan, the dialogue had a presentation made by Shishir Priyadarshi, senior counselor, WTO Secretariat.

Rehman Sobhan said the developed countries changed their stance on global free economy by losing the competitiveness battle with developing economies like China.

The globalisation is now proceeding at a fragile way as the developed economies try to impose different barriers on developing economies, which show better competitiveness, he added.

"We should put our best efforts as the leader of the least developed countries (LDCs) to conclude the DDR as early as possible so that the proposals made by the developed countries can be availed of," Debapriya Bhattacharya, the CPD executive director, said, adding there is no substitute to good homework in building the national capacity in trade negotiations.

In his presentation, Shishir Priyadarshi feared a possible withdrawal of principal agreements and further delay in implementation of the decision to provide LDCs a duty- and quota free market access, which are considered some of the implications of the suspension of the DDR.

"If such a delay persists, then 'concluding the round' may appear to be more important than 'fulfilling the development promises made at Doha," Shishir said with despair.

He said the suspension would lead to weakening the multilateral trading system, primarily by a further proliferation of bilateral and regional preferential trade accords and pressure on smaller countries to accept WTO conditions like stricter intellectual property law in their bilateral agreements.

Replying to a query from the participants, the WTO counselor said bilateral agreements with major trading players is not a solution for the LDCs.

He said Bangladesh should give thrust on mode 4 or movement of workers and aid for trade issue.

Rajani Alexander, councellor and head of Development Cooperation, Canadian High Commission in Dhaka, Sohel Ahmed Chowdury, former commerce secretary, Mustafizur Rahman, research director, CPD, and Zaidi Sattar, senior economist, World Bank, also spoke on the occasion.

Prof Rehman Sobhan, chairman of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), and Debapriya Bhattacharya, CPD executive director, among others, pose for photographs with the participants in a dialogue on 'Current Status of the Doha Round Talks: Next Steps for Bangladesh' organised by the CPD in Dhaka yesterday. PHOTO: STAR