Around the Globe

Original Publication Date: 
22 February, 2007

The US, European Union and India are close to a compromise that would allow the Doha global trade negotiations to resume, World Trade Organization chief Pascal Lamy said Wednesday according to a Dow Jones news service report from Jakarta (WTD, 2/22/07). However, significant obstacles still lie ahead, and any development "is more a question of months than quarters," Mr. Lamy said in an interview. "The negotiators have to sign the right numbers, but we are not that far."

But Mr. Lamy added that the key to moving forward was flexibility by the US, the EU and India. The US needs to agree to reduce agricultural subsidies, the EU must reduce agricultural tariffs, and India must agree to reduce agricultural and industrial tariffs, he said, without providing details. Representatives of the US, the EU, India and Brazil are meeting in London discussing Doha, Indonesia's Minister of Trade Mari Elka Pangestu, told reporters late Wednesday at a joint news conference with Mr. Lamy.

Mr. Lamy said a "formal conclusion" to a successful Doha round could occur within eight months of a breakthrough in the negotiating positions of the US, EU and India. Mr. Lamy said he won't call a WTO ministerial meeting to finalize a possible Doha round agreement until he is confident that it won't risk "a breakdown with a lot of acrimony," akin to what occurred at the previous Doha-related ministerial meeting in Hong Kong in July 2006. But such a breakthrough is needed before the July 1 expiry of the US Trade Promotion Authority, Mr. Lamy said.

Major WTO members resumed Doha negotiations last month because of rising concerns about the potential fallout of a complete collapse of the round that would go "beyond trade," Mr. Lamy said. A Doha-round failure may raise doubts among developing countries about the essential fairness of the global trading system, Mr. Lamy indicated.

Mr. Lamy said that France's move Monday to veto a call by EU industry ministers for successful conclusion of the Doha round in 2007 doesn't pose a serious obstacle to his hoped-for breakthrough. "It's no secret that a country like France, and maybe one or two others in the European Union, hasn't been pushing for the round ... but the decision [on Doha] depends on the majority" of EU members, he said.