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Overall Grade: B+
The Genoa G8 Summit Communique was stronger than in past years on the issue of trade, but there were still critical omissions which may weaken its overall impact on the multilateral trading system.
Critically, the Communique linked the need for more liberal trade and investment rules with that of economic growth, the reduction of poverty reduction and development.
As a key element of an open trading system, the G8 leaders, with the participation of the European Commission, called for the launch of an ambitious new Round of multilateral trade negotiations. While it was seen as vital that such trade negotiations have a balanced agenda, the G8 Communique provided no further details on their aspirations for the next trade Round.
A limited number of details had been announced on Friday in the G7 Statement. The G7 (meeting without Russia who is not yet a member of the WTO) pledged that they would "engage personally and jointly" in order to enable a new Round to be launched at the WTO Ministerial this November in Doha, Qatar. In conjunction with a balanced agenda, increased WTO transparency and interaction with civil society as well as more effective Dispute Settlement Procedures were needed. The G7 addressed the need for the negotiations to address the concerns of developing countries. Such concerns include increased market access, capacity building and technical assistance. While the G7 statement was more detailed than in the recent past, many of the more contentious trade issues such as agriculture, textiles, anti-dumping, environment and labor standards were not addressed. However, the G7 members have often been reluctant to publish specific commitments on multilateral trade issues in order not to appear as "agenda dictators" to other WTO members. The G7 Statement was positive on the nearly complete negotiations for WTO membership of China as well as the progress being made on Russian membership. However, on Saturday, a senior aid to Russian President Putin had called for the other members of the G8 deliver more than "warm words" on this issue.
Regarding increased market access, the G8 welcomed the recent EU "Everything But Arms" initiative to increase trade with the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the results of the UN LDC III Conference which aims for duty-free and quota-free access for LDC products.
Capacity building measures were seen as a vital part of increasing the ability of developing countries to enjoy the gains from trade. Such measures include increased G8 coordination in assisting current developing country members of the WTO to fulfil their trade regulation requirements as well as aiding developing countries in their bid for WTO membership.
The important role of international organizations in capacity building was stressed. The G8 endorsed the work of the WTO's Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance and urged the WTO, the World Intellectual Property Organization and World Bank to assist the Least Developed Countries in complying with intellectual property rules. The heads of state and government also called upon the IMF and World Bank to continue their work in reducing barriers to trade and investment.
Prepared by: Heidi Ullrich and Michael Malleson of the G8 Research Group.
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