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Top players must do more to advance talks: WTO

Trade ministers have intensified their efforts to work through issues jamming the Doha round of global trade talks.

india Updated: Jan 31, 2006 11:55 IST

Trade ministers have intensified their efforts to work through issues jamming the Doha round of global trade talks, but top powers must do more to work through the biggest sticking points, World Trade Organization chief Pascal Lamy said on Monday.

"Looking at both the time frame, which is less than a year left, and the amount of topics which remain to be negotiated, ministers are starting to think about the end game, and this leads them to be a bit more focused and to put a bit more energy in the negotiation," Lamy said.

"(For that) We need a sort of average level of energy, and I think it's there, listening to the ministers," he said in a discussion with international correspondents in Santiago, on the first leg of a visit to Chile, Peru and Argentina.

"But we need a bit more of that between basically the EU, US, Brazil and India," he said.

He said agriculture market access, domestic agriculture subsidies and industrial tariff reduction remain the most difficult issues to be resolved between WTO members, particularly between the United States and the G-20 group of developing countries.

The United States, Europe and Brazil have been blamed at different points for stalling the Doha round, meant to help poor nations out of poverty by lowering trade barriers.

A WTO meeting last month in Hong Kong ended with countries still deadlocked on farm trade and other core issues.

Over the weekend, however, trade ministers meeting in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos, said there was a new sense that progress had to be made on all outstanding issues.

They stuck to an April 30 deadline for agreement on lowering barriers to commerce in farm and industrial goods.


Lamy said on Monday he saw no reason to expect ministers to draft a "Doha light" document just so they could fulfill timetable goals.

"The politics of this negotiation ... with three-quarters of the members of the WTO being developing countries ... the notion that they would accept a DOHA light is something that would not bring developing countries what they expect in this round. It's just not feasible," he said.

The final deadline for a deal is mid-2007 when US President George W Bush loses his power to negotiate independently of the US Congress. To be ready by then, all the details must be wrapped up in 2006.

First Published: Jan 31, 2006 11:55 IST