G33 meeting to help Doha deal - EU

Original Publication Date: 
20 March, 2007

A meeting of G33 developing nations should help the chances of success in the Doha trade round, but convergence among all groups is needed by end-April, European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said today.

"I feel we should be more confident of success as a result of today's meeting in Jakarta," Mr Mandelson told a news conference.

Earlier Indonesia played down the chance of a breakthrough on trade talks at today's meeting, but developing nations aimed to "really push" to make progress, the country's trade minister said.

Indonesia chairs the G33 group of developing countries and is hosting a meeting to discuss positions for the World Trade Organisation's long-troubled Doha round of negotiations.

The five-year-old Doha round was relaunched in January after a six-month suspension triggered by differences among major trading partners, especially the United States and the European Union, over agricultural subsidies.

Asked about the chances of a breakthrough today, Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Pangestu said on the sidelines of the meeting at a five-star Jakarta hotel: "Not yet. But we hope to send a message from the meeting that we from G33 and all the other representatives from developing countries we feel that time is short so we have to really push."

There is concern global trade talks will fail if they are not wrapped up by June, when the US administration's fast-track negotiating authority, which allows it to make trade deals which Congress must approve or reject without making changes, expires.

About 50 protesters representing Indonesian farmers held a protest outside the hotel, putting up a banner saying: "WTO out of agriculture!"

Earlier today, when asked about his confidence in the Doha round making progress, Indian Trade Minister Kamal Nath, said: "It's not my confidence. The question is whether the developed countries are willing to make things move forward to move towards an artificial deadline which arises out of their own political, their own domestic situation."