Vietnam, an "active' WTO member: spokesman

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Vietnam, like many other Asian countries, is an active and important member of the World Trade Organization since the region is the fastest growing part of the global economy, WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell said Thursday.

"You may not see a Japanese, a Chinese, or a Vietnamese delegation speaking out as vocally or as colorfully as a European, North American, or Latin American delegation because it's a different way of doing things ... but these countries are extremely active in the WTO," he told reporters by video conference from the WTO headquarters in Geneva.

"Certainly nothing can take place here without active involvement from a great many big players in Asia."

Rockwell said while China and India are huge trade powers in the region, Vietnam is a "growing power" as well.

The country, which joined the WTO in 2007, achieved 5.9 percent economic growth last year.

Doha talks

Responding to a question about the relevance of the WTO, Rockwell said though there has been some disappointment along the way with respect to the Doha negotiations, the organization "is vibrant and very important till this day."

"Certainly I think there has been a degree of frustration with respect to the negotiating side of our work. But the global trading system has been in place for seven decades and if there is one thing that the crisis shows us, it is that the global trading system works."

He assured that the organization's dispute settlement system is still active and has continued to provide both financial and technical support for many countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to help them integrate into the global market.

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WTO's market-opening talks, known as the Doha round, began in 2001. No progress has been made since 2008 since major emerging countries like China, Brazil, and India, and industrialized countries like the US, the EU, and Japan are still caught up in what Rockwell called a "political deadlock."

"There is an acknowledgement we've got to find other approaches," he said, adding that the talks are complex as they involve about 20 topics, including issues of trading goods and tariff cuts.

One of the approaches would be to look at specific elements of the negotiations that might be easier to deal with, such as special and differential treatment for developing countries, improving customs procedures, and cutting red tape.

"And in an age where the economy is increasingly integrated, where you have global supply and production chains, everyone agrees that this is something we need to do."

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