Planned trade deals - one between the United States
and the European Union, another between the US and Pacific countries
- could make it harder to reach global agreements in the future,
World Trade Organization (WTO) chief Pascal Lamy was quoted as saying
The EU and the US last week held their first round of talks. Next week, Japan is expected to join the US in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which also involves a number of Asian and American countries.
"The reality is that the jury is still out" on whether the two tracks of negotiations will succeed, the outgoing WTO director general told the British daily Financial Times.
Agreeing to bilateral or regional trade standards on product safety or car emissions could raise barriers for countries outside such treaties and could make it more difficult to reach global deals on such issues, he warned.
"The real question at the end of the day is whether this will lead to multilateral convergence or not," Lamy said about the current US and EU efforts.
An EU-US deal and the TPP would also do nothing to reduce Western agricultural subsidies, he said, referring to a key issue at the upcoming WTO summit in Bali in December, which aims to revive the stalled Doha talks on lowering tariffs.
Also on Thursday, Lamy presented the WTO's annual World Trade Report, a policy paper focused on the future of global commerce.
The report forecast that, in an open trade environment, exports and economies of developing countries will likely grow two or three times as fast as developed countries in future decades.
It also warned that short-term protectionist measures could endanger the progress on globalization and trade that has helped poorer countries in past decades.
Lamy is set to hand over his post to Brazilian Roberto Azevedo in September.
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