Geneva: President Barack Obama’s trade chief got a gracious reception from negotiators during his first visit to the World Trade Organization, but found little support for a US plan to revive moves towards a global treaty stalled after eight years of often fractious talks.
Ron Kirk, the former Dallas mayor, said on Wednesday he met at least half of the 153 national ambassadors at the WTO this week to hear their views on the Doha trade round—an unusual diplomatic step for a cabinet-level official.
He thanked diplomats and WTO director general Pascal Lamy for the “frank and candid, but useful, discussions.” Still, he urged countries to come up with new ways for completing the talks launched in Doha in 2001.
“We should all be willing to consider changes to the process that could put the negotiations on a more direct path to success,” Kirk told a news conference.
He said Washington does not want to start over and ignore progress that has been made, but stressed the need to “think about new paths to address the remaining issues.”
Kirk repeated many of the mantras expressed during the eight years of negotiations under the administration of president George W. Bush—the need for new market opportunities for American exporters, better clarity on how far loopholes in agriculture and manufacturing would go, and lower trade barriers from fast developing nations such as Brazil, China and India.