WTO chief asks China for help restarting trade talks


BEIJING (AP) - The director-general of the World Trade Organization says the collapse of the group's recent meeting in Mexico doesn't mean that multinational negotiations are doomed, and asked China to use its influence to help smooth the way toward new talks. 

Supachai Panitchpakdi said Monday that the failure of the ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico, in September to establish a road map for the next stage of the "Doha Development Agenda'' of world trade was a kick in the pants for WTO members. 

"Cancun has served as a wake-up call,'' Supachai told a conference marking the second anniversary of China's accession to the WTO. 

"There is a willingness to work harder and reach deeper to find the flexibility to push ahead with the negotiations.'' 

He urged China to use its position as both a major trading nation and a developing economy to help bridge the differences between WTO members and put the Doha round back on track by a Dec. 15 deadline. 

"It is very much in the interests of China that the round succeeds - just as it is for the system overall,'' Supachai said. 

The Cancun meeting was derailed when Brazil and India led a walkout of developing countries to protest the refusal of the United States and the European Union to put agricultural protection on the negotiating table. 

The latest round of multilateral trade negotiations was launched in 2001 at a WTO meeting in Doha, Qatar. 

Its aim is to assist developing nations that felt shortchanged by a previous trade round. 

That Doha session also marked the ascension of China to the global trade body. - AP 

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