| GEO Business|
| World trade hit by biggest drop in 60 years in 2009: WTO|
| Updated at: 1422 PST, Wednesday, February 24, 2010|
BRUSSELS: World trade fell by 12 percent last year as the economic crisis caused the biggest drop since 1945, giving new urgency to the need to conclude trade talks, WTO chief Pascal Lamy said Wednesday.
The unprecedented reduction in global commerce makes it "economically imperative to conclude" international trade negotiations, which are at a standstill, in 2010, Lamy said. "World trade was reduced by 12 percent in 2009," he told the European Policy Centre, a Brussels think tank.
It was the "sharpest decline" since the end of the World War II, he said, and worse than the 10 percent fall that the WTO had forecast in December.
The Doha Round of trade negotiations began in 2001 with a focus on dismantling obstacles to trade for poor nations, by aiming for a deal that would cut agriculture subsidies and tariffs on industrial goods.