MUSCAT - The World Trade Organization (WTO) chief urged the United States and India to start talks as soon as possible to tackle protectionism and called on Gulf Arabs to open up to international business.

The U.S. and India are at odds with protectionism in agriculture. Now the elections of both countries are over, we expect them to start engaging in talks, Pascal Lamy told reporters in Oman late on Sunday.

Lamy said the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) -- a loose political and economic alliance that also includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain -- should ease protectionist policies.

The GCC states must open up more to the commitment they made (to WTO) on services and remove protectionism, he said.

I think protectionism has risks and I don't think it will work, especially in a global financial crisis like this.