Leaders of rich and developing nations want to finish a long-delayed world trade deal in 2010 and head off trade wars that could worsen global economic troubles, according to a draft of a joint declaration obtained by The Associated Press.
Completing the so-called Doha round has risen up the agenda due to fears that the economic crisis will lead to an upsurge in protectionist policies like the ones that helped cause the Great Depression of the 1930s.
"We reaffirm our commitment to maintain and promote open markets and reject all protectionist measures in trade and investment," according to a draft of the joint statement signed by 17 nations, including the Group of Eight industrialized countries and five key emerging market economies.
The global trade talks, which were initially to conclude in 2004, have been beset by difficulties and at a standstill for months. A deal would cut goods tariffs and subsidies around the world.
The leaders asked trade ministers to meet prior to the Group of 20 meeting of developing and rich countries in September in Pittsburgh, according to the draft. The final document is to be released later in the day.
Raising barriers to imports was an important factor that contributed to the world economic crisis of the 1930s. Governments, including the United States with its Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, sought to protect domestic businesses and farmers by blocking imports. Trade withered as a result.
The so-called G-5 developing countries issued a separate statement on Wednesday expressing the importance of concluding the talks.
"We are concerned with the present state of the world economy, which submits the developing countries to an inordinate burden resulting from a crisis they did not initiate," the G-5 said. Concluding the Doha round would aid "the restoration of confidence in the world markets and inhibit emerging protectionist trends," the G-5 said.
The Group of Eight industrialized nations of Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States on Thursday opened their annual summit to Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa, as well as Egypt. Also signing off on the trade goals are the leaders of Australia, Indonesia and South Korea.
The so-called Group of Five, making their fifth straight appearance at the annual summit, albeit as guests, will discuss climate change, development aid, global economic growth and international trade with their Group of Eight counterparts - all topics touched on by G-8 leaders meeting on their own Wednesday.
Among the G-8 leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have been particularly vocal that the G-8 needs to be expanded to better represent the world's population and economies. Sarkozy told reporters on Wednesday that a possible formula would be to have the G-8 meet within the structure of a G-20, major economies taking the lead on ways out of the economic crisis, or a G-14, combining the industrialized nations and emerging economies forums.
In their statement, the G-5 called for greater inclusion in international decision-making, noting its members' positive contributions to tackling global challenges.
This program aired on July 9, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.