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Merkel Urges Flexibility in Doha Round
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday asked for flexibility from all parties in the Doha Round of negotiations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) and pledged to have new dialogue with leading developing countries.


Success of the Doha Round is important, she told the opening plenary session of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.


"The opportunity is there. There is real chance," Merkel told the world's leading business executives, academics and politicians.


In order to conclude the Doha Round, flexibility from all parties are needed, she said.


She also asked that the talks should not concentrate on the agricultural sector only, but rather include the services sector. "We need to find a fair balance."


She stressed the importance of the transatlantic partnership, but quickly added that the enhancement of the Europe-US relationship is definitely not directed against any third party, of course not in the context of the Doha Round talks.


About 30 trade ministers are invited by Switzerland to have informal discussions over the Doha Round on the sidelines of the forum. Key players such as WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab and EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson are expected to participate.


The Doha Round, launched in 2001, was suspended last July after six key WTO members -- the US, the EU, Australia, Japan, Brazil and India -- failed to bridge their long-term differences on agricultural subsidies and market access.


While underlining transatlantic ties, Merkel also pledged to have "new forms of dialogue" with emerging economies, such as Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Mexico.


She said the dialogue would be launched at the next Group of Eight (G8) summit in Heiligendamm, Germany. Her country holds the current G8 presidency.


She said globalization should offer opportunities for all countries and that all countries should be treated fairly. "Globalization offers far more opportunities than risks for people -- more peace, more prosperity and more growth."


She reiterated her country's ambition of reviving the EU Constitutional Treaty, saying it is tailor-made for the bloc to face challenges in the future.


"Europe can be successful if Europe stands together and acts together," she said.


Merkel, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, stressed the need to engage EU citizens in the process.


She said her country would draw up a "roadmap" for revival of the constitution in June.


On climate change, Merkel said a global binding regime is needed to confront the malaise.


"We also know that politics alone is not sufficient to prevent further consequences of climate change. We need a binding commitment, a binding regime that includes all of us."


She welcomed US President George W. Bush's call for a 20-percent reduction in gasoline consumption in his country in the next 10 years, saying the target is sensible.


Climate change is a major topic at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. It was identified by forum participants as the top issue that would most likely have the greatest impact on the world in the coming years. 


(Xinhua News Agency January 25, 2007)


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