Copenhagen talks must not stall like Doha

I’ve been closely following the Doha trade talks as my MEP Robert Sturdy, who as vice-chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary World Trade Organisation Committee, has played a key role in these negotiations.

I know his frustrations only too well as year after year, world leaders fail to reach an agreement. Today we issued another press release voicing concerns that the latest talks this week will once again fail to be productive. image

America holds some of the ace cards in reaching an agreement for these talks, which started in 2001 and are intended to lower trade barriers around the world to encourage free trade:

Robert warned:

"There is growing desperation around the world for a deal which would boost all of our economies, but particularly those in the developing world. It seems that everyone at the meeting wants to talk about Doha, except for the USA.

"A deal may seem far-fetched at the moment but it will become impossible unless the EU flexes its muscle and stands up for liberalisation of global markets. If the USA resorts to protectionism, the EU will follow, and the results for global trade will be devastating."

We can’t allow nations to behave the same way at the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen next week.

image Economist Sir Nicholas Stern, author of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, and environmental activist George Monbiot share my concerns about these crucial talks being dragged out the same way as Doha, and are urging world leaders to work collaboratively.

The  great difficulty is that different nations have their own agendas, and self-protectionism often kicks in when countries panic if they are struggling in any way.

The world will be watching President Obama,  hoping he will heed the decisive words of Sir Nicholas who in today’s Guardian urges world leaders to see the bigger picture:

Do we collaborate and act to reach a strong political agreement that both decisively cuts the devastating risks posed by climate change, and rapidly opens up the opportunities offered by low-carbon economic growth? Do we in that way set ourselves to overcome poverty and promote prosperity? Or, do we give way to narrow, short-term interests, quarrelling, lack of ambition and delay, thus allowing the risks to the climate to grow to dangerous levels which will derail development in both rich and poor countries?

Given what is at stake, essentially the future peace and prosperity of the planet, world leaders must now recognise that Copenhagen is the most important international gathering of our time. A strong political agreement can and must be reached in Copenhagen. There can be no excuses for failure.