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Trade round gets new impetus from Davos talks

Jan '07
World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy announced tonight that the stalled Doha Round trade negotiations have been given a new impetus by talks between ministers from 30 countries at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2007 in Davos.

Kamal Nath, Minister of Commerce and Industry of India, declared: “Despite the cold outside in Davos, we have been able to defreeze the talks that were frozen.”

Both were speaking at a session on trade just a few hours after the ministers had agreed to relaunch negotiations suspended last July because of strong disagreements between developed and developing countries, and between the European Union and the United States, on how far agricultural subsidies and tariffs on industrial goods should be cut.

“Today's ministerial meeting has put quite a lot of energy into the notion that the landing zone is in sight,” said Lamy. He added that he will return to Geneva to oversee fresh Round discussions at negotiator level and call ministers together again when enough progress has been made. But he will only do that if and when the right moment has come. “It won't be tomorrow,” he said.

“I remain of the view that it (the Round) is doable,” Lamy declared, while adding a note of caution. “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Developing countries have to be convinced that there is more being offered by the major trade powers than before, he said.

Other ministers at the session agreedthat the talks, considered a last-ditch effort to save the Round launched at the end of 2001, had been successful in getting the process moving again after months of hiatus.

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