Sharing concerns of India and other developing countries, the WTO on Thursday said protectionism is major concern and expressed confidence that a deal on opening the world trade further is possible this year.

“We need to remain vigilant. With unemployment remaining high, protectionist pressures remain a worry,” WTO Director General Pascal Lamy told PTI here.

His comments incidentally coincide with US President Barack Obama’s heightening the pitch to protect American jobs in the wake of employment losses due to outsourcing to developing countries such as India. Obama said, it was time to end tax breaks to American firms that outsource jobs overseas, while helping those which create employment within the US.

Lamy said the international trade body will continue to keep a close watch on protectionist measures that impede international free trade. “We at the WTO secretariat will continue monitoring these developments through 2010,” he said.

India and several emerging economies like Brazil have raised concern over the protectionist measures in the West, especially after the global financial crisis.

The stance against protectionism got support from South Korea with its President Lee Myung-bak saying that “G-20 summit had played a pivotal role in resisting protectionist pressures and we need to reaffirm the importance of continuing our stance against protectionism“.

Concluding the Doha development agenda before the end of the year should be given the highest priority. Commenting on the possibility of concluding the Doha Development Round of trade of talks, which commenced in the Qatari capital in 2001 aimed at enhancing global commerce, Lamy said reaching the agreement is “doable in 2010”, but “we now need to see it done“.

“We have planned a schedule of technical work over the next months. Governments will assess at the end of March is it still feasible to conclude negotiations this year,” he said.

Global leaders, including the G-20 members, have been seeking completion of the Doha Round of talks in 2010.

Lamy and a few other trade ministers would meet informally here on Saturday, to review the progress of the negotiations for a global agreement under the Doha Round.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma would be attending the meeting.

When asked if some observers see lack of interest on the part of the US in speeding up the talks on Doha, Lamy said, “President Obama and USTR Ron Kirk tell me they want to conclude in 2010 and I take them at their word.”

However, US Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk has not come to Davos for the WEF meetings.

Lamy said it would require co-operation from all the 153 members of WTO for a successful outcome. “The challenge confronting the membership now is to move from words to deeds and wrap the Doha Round deal in 2010.” he added.

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