Lamy: WTO to play bigger role in energy trade



The World Trade Organization (WTO) is to play a bigger role in the international energy trade, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy said in Rome on Thursday.

Speaking to the World Energy Congress, Lamy said WTO can play stronger role as big oil-producing nations like Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf nations have recently joined the WTO, while other energy-rich states like Russia , Kazakhstan , Ukraine and Algeria are determined to join.

"The WTO can contribute to a more efficient allocation of energy resources and generally a better trading environment for energy," he said.

Explaining to the audience, Lamy said existing WTO rules were not negotiated with the specifics of the energy sector in mind, but are well capable of adjusting to changing realities.

When the current rules covering energy trade were negotiated 60years ago, opening trade in energy is not a political priority and crude oil price is merely 20 U.S. dollars a barrel at current prices.

But now, energy has become a strategic sector for all nations and oil prices has soared once over 98 U.S. dollars a barrel.

Lamy said the profile of energy has been raised in the multinational trade talks including the Doha round.

According to the WTO chief, not only does the Doha Round aim to open markets to clean technology, but it can also contribute to the environmental cause by eliminating or reducing tariffs on certain goods.

WTO can also improve the energy sector by promoting transparency and fairer rules in the market, he said.

"The question of subsidies in the form of low-priced energy products, especially natural gas, has recurrently stirred hot debate among WTO members and is also part of the on-going negotiations," Lamy said.

"A strong WTO is needed with new members, such as Ukraine and hopefully Russia , joining the family soon," he added.

The 5-day World Energy Congress is to conclude later on Thursday. The next congress is to be held in Montreal of Canada in September 2010.