Geneva: Negotiations to open up global commerce have made no real progress lately and are moving too slowly to hit the target of a Doha Round deal by 2010, the head of the World Trade Organization said on Friday.
WTO director-general Pascal Lamy said intensive talks had not advanced enough to reach a core deal in the Doha negotiations, now in their eighth year, by early 2010. That would be necessary to reach an overall detailed accord next year, as called for by political leaders.
“We have not yet seen tangible progress in the negotiations and, overall, I would say that the current speed with which we are advancing is too slow ... to be in a position to wrap this round next year,” Lamy told a meeting of the WTO’s 153 members.
The Doha talks are stalled over differences between exporters and importers, and rich and poor countries on how much to cut farm subsidies and industrial and agricultural tariffs, as well as opening up markets for services.
Friday’s meeting had been called to take stock of progress after a week of meetings attended by senior officials from capitals and to discuss the next moves.
WTO members from Brazil to China expressed concern at the way the talks were going, in line with gloom after a meeting on Thursday of key delegations.
Many again expressed frustration at being left out of meetings in small groups, such as a series hosted by the European Union for a dozen countries, that they said touched on questions of vital interest to them.
Turkey’s WTO ambassador, Bozkurt Aran, told Friday’s session that it was the least promising meeting since he arrived in Geneva just over a year ago, according to one participant.
Lamy called on delegates to ensure that the next week of meetings with senior officials, starting 23 November, led to real negotiations and not just discussions, which meant they must involve well-prepared proposals laid down in negotiating texts.
Only that would lead to progress that the WTO’s 30 November-2 December ministerial conference could review and act on, he said.