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Lamy Urges On Doha Participants

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

07 February 2011

The World Trade Organization’s Director General, Pascal Lamy, as chairperson of the Trade Negotiations Committee, urged WTO ambassadors on February 2 to engage in bilateral and small group discussions on resolving key obstacles to a near-global multilateral free trade agreement, through the Doha Round.

“Acceleration, texts, convergence is now the name of the game,” he told an informal meeting of the committee, which oversees the Doha Round negotiations in all subjects.

Noting that the mood has improved for producing revised drafts by Easter (late April), Lamy said he cautioned ministers at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that: “Atmospheric improvement is good and important, but we will not advance on air alone.”

He said he told ministers that while the negotiations have to be ‘multilateral’ (among the full membership), possible breakthroughs have to be tested in a second leg, ‘plurilateral’ or bilateral discussions among small groups or pairs of members.

“This leg also has to move faster and deeper to transfer the required energy onto the multilateral leg. And this needs to happen now. Not tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Now,” he asserted. “The mood music can be good but we need the two legs on the dance floor.”

Reflecting their shared sense of urgency, delegations reiterated the issues that concern them on substance, how the talks are organized, and ensuring that all members are included, particularly when decisions are taken. Several cautioned that the talks should not unravel provisions in drafts that are more or less agreed or ‘stable’.

Some said the present pace is not living up to the agreed aim of accelerating the talks.

Some warned of the dangers of failing to conclude the round this year, one delegation questioning whether anyone would want to return to continue the negotiations if the talks go into a hiatus.

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