Geneva: World Trade Organization (WTO) director general Pascal Lamy urged member nations to show flexibility and narrow remaining differences as he weighed whether to call a meeting to reach a new trade deal.
Pushing hard: WTO director general Pascal Lamy. Maneesh Bakshi / AP
Lamy was talking as mediators of WTO’s core agriculture and industrial goods talks issued on Saturday new negotiating texts that would serve as blueprints for an outline deal, known in WTO jargon as modalities, in the seven-year-old Doha Round.
“With these revised texts we are closer to our goal of clinching modalities in agriculture and industry, a stepping stone towards the conclusion of the Doha Round,” Lamy said.
“This is not the time for unrealistic demands. Nor is it the time for inflexible stances. This is the time for collective moves towards global solutions,” he said in a statement.
Leaders of the Group of Twenty (G-20) rich and emerging countries called last month for an outline deal in the Doha talks by the end of this year to counter the worst economic crisis since the 1930s.
The talks were launched in the Qatari capital in late 2001 to free up trade in goods from food to clothing as well as services such as banking and telecom, while helping developing countries export their way out of poverty.
But a deal has proved elusive for the past seven years as rich and poor nations, and exporters and importers squabble over the need to create new business opportunities while protecting sensitive industries and farm sectors.
Australia, Brazil and the European Union are pushing hard for a meeting and a deal. But the US and India have shown recently that they are more sceptical.
If a meeting is to take place, Lamy has indicated it would probably be around next weekend, meaning he would have to decide by Monday whether to go ahead.