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Doha Round Still Alive, Says Lamy

by Ulrika lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

31 July 2007


Opening a WTO Trade Negotiations Committee meeting last week, Director-General Pascal Lamy urged Members to study new draft texts on agriculture and industrial goods during the summer break and come back in September “ready to engage in intensive negotiations”. “We have already come a long way in this Round, and the distance left to go is not so great — but it will require an extra effort,” he said.

Although Pascal Lamy had told the G8 Summit in June that an interim Doha Round agreement was now “within reach”, a crucial meeting between four leading WTO members in Potsdam in June failed to resolve outstanding farm subsidy issues. The US, the EU, Brazil and India had met to see if they could reach a common platform over agricultural trade. Although these four held no mandate for the remainder of the WTO's 150 members, success at Potsdam would have given a green light for the conclusion of the Round. Before the meeting EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said: '(Potsdam) cannot finish the Doha Round, but it will determine if Doha can be finished.'

Many people were ready to write off the Round as a failure, but Mr Lamy, known for his marathon running, has not given up.

'When we last met in informal session on 22 June,' he told the Committee last week, 'there was a strong reaffirmation of our collective target: full modalities in Agriculture and non-agricultural market access negotiations (NAMA) and commensurate progress in other areas of the negotiations in line with our mandate. This is the essential step we must take in order to conclude the DDA successfully and soon.

'I emphasized then that the Geneva process is and must remain the core of the negotiation. This is vital to ensure the full participation and informed decision making we all want. Since our June informal meeting, I am pleased to say that the negotiating process here in Geneva has been significantly reinforced and intensified.

'We will shortly be hearing from all the negotiating group Chairs, and I believe that we will be able to conclude from their reports that some good progress has been made across the board over the last few months – in some areas in absolute terms, and in others in terms of clarifying the outstanding issues.

'The major development, of course, has been the circulation of draft modalities texts last week by Ambassadors Falconer and Stephenson, the Chairs of the Agriculture and NAMA groups.

' As the two Chairs informed participants in their fax on 5 July, delegations now have the month of August to reflect fully on the draft texts, and then be in a position to return to the process prepared to engage in an intensive negotiation as from 3 September. I would urge all of you to fully use the month of August to examine the texts in detail, to consult, discuss and engage bilaterally among you.'


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