GORDON Brown has come in for criticism for his recent forays into policy matters not directly related to his responsibilities as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Yesterday, however, he launched an initiative on a subject that is very much his own, the breakdown in the so-called Doha round of trade talks which if not mended in the next six months could lead to a new era of sterile protectionism in world trade. He called for “bold and concerted action” to restart the Doha talks and a willingness by Europe, the United States, Brazil and India to make far bigger concessions than they have previously over farm subsidies, industrial tariffs and access to service markets. The Doha negotiations are primarily a matter for governments but in a bid to underline the risks inherent in what he calls a “dangerous global log jam” Mr Brown has enlisted the suppport of ten leading international businessmen, from Lord Browne of BP to Lee Scott, the president of Wal-Mart, whose joint letter to The Times yesterday said that failure to make progress would “signal a victory for protectionism in Europe and the United States” and risk the loss of millions of jobs. “Political leadership is now essential” said the businessmen in their letter. That is precisely what Gordon Brown is providing. He is in Brussels today for discussions with EU finance ministers, Ed Balls the Treasury Minister is travelling to Japan and Alistair Darling, the Trade and Industry Minister will visit Brazil and India.


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