- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 9, 2009

L’AQUILA, Italy | Fighting a rising tide of protectionism, leaders of the world’s top economies Thursday said they will try to restart trade talks and have the on-again-off-again talks finished by the end of next year.

The leaders, meeting in Italy as part of a summit of leaders from the Group of 8 top economies, also agreed to try to push for a global warming agreement by December, and the developed nations committed to heavy reductions, though developing countries balked at imposing targets on themselves.

Protectionist sentiments have increased in many countries, including recently in the U.S. House, where a bill to combat global warming would impose tariffs on countries that don’t limit their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Fighting back, the leaders of the G-8 as well as a handful of major emerging economies, agreed to try to jump-start the Doha round of trade talks that began in 2001 but stalled last year.

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Michael Froman, a deputy national security adviser and Mr. Obama’s chief aide for the Italy meeting, said the goal was to instill “try and break the deadlock that has plagued the Doha round for the last couple of years.”

The Doha round of negotiations was designed to try to cut agriculture subsidies and tackle other free trade issues that have built up since the formation of the World Trade Organization in 1995.

Meanwhile, the global warming agreements represented a chance for Mr. Obama to take a victory lap.

He ran Thursday’s meeting that produced the agreement on limiting global temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius — the figure he said a consensus of scientists says must be the limit.

Developing nations also accepted the concept of an as-yet unspecified a peak year after which greenhouse gas emissions would have to decline.

But those nations balked at a call by the top 8 economies to cut emissions in half from their 1990 level by 2050. The developing nations argue they need to see more action by the top polluting nations before they take steps that could limit their own efforts at growth.