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          ICC reacts to modest outcome of WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Conference

          • Paris, 19 December 2005

          As a strong supporter of the Doha Round multilateral trade negotiations, ICC welcomes the fact that the WTO Ministerial Conference held last week in Hong Kong reached agreement on a declaration which keeps the Round alive. However, the package of measures adopted was decidedly modest, and difficult decisions on opening markets were for the most part postponed to later. That expectations were deliberately lowered by WTO governments in the weeks preceding Hong Kong cannot conceal the reality that the Round now faces a tough uphill struggle to reach a successful conclusion by the end of next year.

          ICC still believes, however, that this objective remains achievable. The challenge is more political than technical. It requires the commitment of governments at the highest levels to find the political will to make compromises that recognize the common interest in success and the collective cost of failure. ICC calls upon WTO governments to mark the arrival of a new calendar year with a new-found determination to work together to meet the timetable established at Hong Kong for the course of 2006 with a view to arriving at a final and ambitious accord at year end.

          "A successful completion of the Doha Round next year is vital to enable business to maximize its contribution towards raising global living standards", said Guy Sebban, Secretary General of ICC. "This major multilateral initiative to liberalize world trade offers a much-needed counterweight to the proliferation of discriminatory bilateral deals and is key to keeping in check the ever-present threat of protectionism."

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