Washington: The director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) proposed a new round of negotiations aimed at reviving efforts to cut tariffs and farm subsidies worldwide.
Talks to craft a deal fell apart in July, the third time in as many years that negotiators failed to reach an agreement. WTO director general Pascal Lamy on Wednesday proposed another meeting of trade ministers in the next few weeks, an unusually short time between ministerial summits.
“There is now far too much on the table, particularly for developing countries, to give up on these negotiations,” Lamy said in a speech to a United Nations group. “I am ready to call ministers to Geneva to try and close the issues, which remain open.”
The Doha Round of talks in WTO began in 2001 with a plan to cut farm subsidies in rich nations, and tariffs on industrial and farm goods worldwide. Since then, the talks have moved in fits and starts, with a series of meetings of trade ministers from the US, the European Union, China, India and other nations ending in failure.
Lamy called ministers to Geneva in July for what he called a last chance effort to wrap up a deal before US President George W. Bush leaves office next January. While ministers from all sides said they made progress, the talks failed again.
The main sticking point, highlighted in a divide between the US and India, was the trigger for a mechanism to allow developing countries to raise agricultural tariffs to protect their farmers from a surge in imports.
Lamy said he thinks ministers may now be able to resolve this and other outstanding issues on what is called the Doha development agenda (DDA).
“I have also been encouraged by the expressions of political commitment to a successful conclusion of the DDA made by leaders across the globe,” he said. Still, “while I believe there is scope for renewed engagement over the coming weeks, it is clear that we are coping with a fragile situation”.