Tokyo: Major advanced and emerging economies in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are close to making a decision to hold a ministerial meeting in September in India, sources close to the matter said on Wednesday, in a sign that momentum is growing to revitalize the stalled Doha Round of global trade liberalization talks.
The leaders of the G8 major nations, who are to kick off their annual summit meeting the same day in Italy, are likely to explore the chance of convening the WTO session to be joined by selected members of the international body, the sources said.
A specific schedule for the session is not yet known but it is expected to come around 3 September, after the planned vice-ministerial meeting in July, according to Kyodo news agency.
India, under new commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma, has strong interest in hosting a WTO session as it appears that the Doha Round is regaining momentum, especially after the installation of the new US administration led by President Barack Obama, one of the sources said.
The WTO “failed to deliver a ministerial session last December due partly to a row between the US and India,” another source said. “If we can get the Doha Round back on track, I don’t think any country will resist India’s proposal.”
But there always remain suspicions that various levels of talks among WTO members will fail to produce major progress in order to conclude the Doha Round, which was launched in 2001 in the Qatari capital and was originally scheduled to be concluded in 2005, unless they address differences between developed and developing countries.
China, Brazil and other emerging economies have banded together to maintain their bargaining position against the developed world encompassing the US, the European Union and Japan.
The G8 countries, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US will discuss the issue on Thursday in an extended session that will be also joined by Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.
They are expected to pledge in a statement their efforts to conclude the Doha Round within next year, according to the sources.
Last month, ministers of some of the WTO members gathered in Paris for their informal session, agreeing in principle to have a vice-ministerial meeting by the end of this month.
India’s proposal will soon be “finalized”, a source said.
Any result from the possible ministerial session in September would be reported to a summit of the G20 developed countries and emerging economies, scheduled for the same month in Pittsburg, in the US.