G20 meeting gives flicker of hope??

Original Publication Date: 
10 September, 2006

World Trade Organisation chief Pascal Lamy said on Sunday that rich and developing nations had agreed that talks on a global trade pact should be renewed although differences remained over farm subsidies and market access.

Lamy, speaking at a news conference at a meeting in Rio de Janeiro of representatives of the G20 group of developing nations, the United States, Japan and the European Union, said that no date had been set for a formal resumption of the Doha round of talks on the floundering trade deal.

It was the first time officials had met since the Doha round collapsed in July.

The various sides reached consensus in Rio on the need to resume the talks, he said. But more work must be done on the issues of farm subsidies and market access and the players need to know by mid-March if a deal is possible, Lamy said.

Since the Doha round began in 2001, Brazil, India and other countries that rely heavily on agriculture exports have focused on trying to cut subsidies and trade barriers by the United States and the European Union.

European nations and the United States have been unwilling to reduce aid to cotton, sugar and other products unless they get more access to services and manufacturing in developing nations.

Earlier on Sunday, the top US trade negotiator said the United States was committed to a successful outcome of the talks.

"We will do what it takes. If there is potential for a successful round we will find it," US Trade Representative Susan Schwab told reporters in Rio after meeting Lamy and Japanese Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa.

Schwab also cautioned against expecting any major breakthrough during the Rio meeting.

"There is always time to resuscitate the talks if the political will is there. President Bush is committed to a successful outcome of the Doha round," Schwab said.

She was referring to the expiration in July 2007 of Bush's so-called fast track negotiating mandate by which Congress must either approve or reject any eventual trade accord, without making any amendments.    

Ref Link: http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/411749/828079