Stuart Harbinson, senior trade policy adviser, was quoted in a Reuters story titled "Trade-WTO/DOHA Analysis-Doha Trade Negotiators Wait for America," that was published on July 17, 2009 on Forbes.com.
The article discuss how leaders of the world's major economies are meeting in Geneva to negotiate a new Doha Development Agenda (DDA) global trade pact for 2010, but current talks are stalled until the United States clearly signals that it is ready to progress. The DDA is the trade-negotiation round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that began in Doha, Qatar in 2001. The agenda's objective is to lower trade barriers around the world, allowing countries to increase trade globally and help poorer countries prosper.
According to the article, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk emphasized that the Obama Administration wants to work with trade partners towards a deal, and stated that President Obama has focused on moving the United States toward economic recovery, which includes increasing trade globally. Kirk gave little indication of how the administration, which is still conducting a review of trade policy, sees the talks evolving.
"Trade may not be the highest priority for the new administration which may therefore want to think carefully before spending political capital on it. But economic recovery is the top priority," said Harbinson, who as a former senior diplomat at the WTO helped to launch the DDA.
The article notes that WTO Director-General Pascal Lemy estimates that completing the DDA could boost the world economy by $130 billion.
"There is a realization that trade can contribute to that," Harbinson said. "We're now in this interesting situation in which a new lifeline has been thrown to the round by the economic crisis."