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Couchepin calls for new round of WTO trade talks

Swiss economics minister, Pascal Couchepin, met the Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, in Davos for talks on trade

(Keystone)

The Swiss economics minister, Pascal Couchepin, has called for a new round of trade talks organised by the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation.

Speaking to swissinfo in Davos, Couchepin said it was necessary for richer countries to make concessions to poorer states for progress to be made.

He said that free trade agreements too often excluded economically weak countries. And he said that anti-globalisation protesters often ignored the fact that poorer nations wanted a resumption of WTO talks.

Couchepin has held talks with many of his ministerial counterparts during the World Economic Forum in Davos. Among others, he has met the South African economics minister, Alec Irwin, the Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, and the head of the WTO, Mike Moore.

"The general feeling is that a new round of trade talks is necessary," he said. "But it won't be easy and there must be more flexibility."

Couchepin said the WTO should take more risks and make new proposals to developing nations.

The last round of trade talks under the aegis of the WTO broke down in Seattle in 1999 due to disagreements between the developed and developing world.

A decision about a new round is due to be taken in July.

by Michael Hollingdale


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