[EUROPE] Trade powers planning to break World Trade Organisation deadlock

Trade powers will meet next month for a long-awaited attempt at a breakthrough in global trade talks which risk years of further delay if a deal cannot be hammered out soon. World Trade Organisation (WTO) director-general Pascal Lamy yesterday called for a group of ministers to meet, probably for several days, from July 21 to push the Doha round of global free trade talks toward conclusion, diplomats said.

Mexico's ambassador to the World Trade Organisation, Fernando de Mateo y Venturini, announced the date after a briefing by Lamy to ambassadors at the World Trade Organisation's Geneva headquarters.

The meeting would include 35 to 40 ministers representing a range of interests in the fractious negotiations about opening up agriculture, industry and services markets which Lamy is aiming to wrap up this year.

If those ministers can successfully broker trade-offs in farming and manufacturing trade - the most difficult areas of the talks - diplomats said the basics of a Doha accord could go to the World Trade Organisation's full membership as early as the end of July.

Services would be discussed briefly by ministers and finalised later.

"I think it is perfectly imaginable that this deal can be done, but a lot of hard work needs to be done first," said the European Union's top civil servant for trade, David O'Sullivan.

"I agree with him," added US ambassador to the WTO Peter Allgeier, who also participated in Lamy's briefing. The Doha round was launched in 2001, shortly after the September 11 attacks on the US, in the hope of giving the global economy a boost and helping poor countries export more.

Source: Gulf Daily News

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