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Pascal Lamy Still Hopeful On Doha Round

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

11 May 2007

Reporting on Wednesday to the World Trade Organization General Council, Director-General Pascal Lamy said that a successful outcome to the Doha Round is still possible, even in the small amount of time remaining until the end of the year.

However, he warned that failure would mean foregoing the very significant trade package already on the table and “breaking the commitment for a more developing-friendly world trading system”.

With negotiations continuing to drag on, success in the Round may depend on the attitude of the US Congress, given that the US President's 'fast-track' trade treaty authority will expire in June. A Democratic Congress seems likely to demand a very high price for its renewal. On the other hand, the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as President of France may be a hopeful sign. 'Sarkozy will probably be open to change on agriculture,’ says Patrick Messerlin, the director of the Groupe Economie Mondiale at Sciences Po, France’s elite school for political science studies. However he adds that Sarkozky has both criticized the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and defended it in past years.

Mr Lamy described the current state of negotiations under the three headings of Agriculture, NAMA (non-agricultural market access) and Aid For Trade:

'The Agriculture Chair has already issued the first instalment of what he has termed a “challenges” paper, identifying centres of gravity on the different pillars and aimed at provoking participants into showing movement away from current positions and towards consensus. Participants had the opportunity to react to this first paper at an informal meeting on Monday 7 May, and as could be expected, a wide range of views were expressed by a large number of delegations on its content. The level of engagement at Monday's meeting was encouraging. It shows that we do indeed have an active multilateral process and that participants appear to be serious about negotiating within it.

'In NAMA . . (there is) . . .a continuous process of consultations, starting this week . . . (leading up to) . . . a new negotiating text.

'Finally, on Aid for Trade, I am also happy to report that preparations for the three regional Aid for Trade reviews are advancing well. The first review is scheduled to take place in Lima, Peru on 5-7 September for the Latin America/Caribbean region, the second review will take place in Manila, Philippines on 19-20 September for the Asian region and the third review will take place on 27-28 September in Tanzania for the Africa region. In all these three regional reviews, the respective regional development banks are taking the lead in coordinating the preparations. All this will lead to the monitoring and evaluation event which will be hosted here on 20-21 November.

Pascal Lamy told the IMF-World Bank International Monetary and Financial Committee in Washington last month that if the situation in the Doha Round trade negotiations does not change soon “governments will be forced to confront the unpleasant reality of failure”.

"The Doha Round is entering into a decisive moment," said the Director-General. "If we are to conclude it by the end of 2007, as pledged by a number of players in Delhi this week, we will have to see tangible progress over the coming weeks in Geneva. Success is entirely within reach, provided all WTO members are ready to make a contribution."

"A breakthrough in the negotiations in the next few months would send a much needed message of confidence," he told the assembled IMF and World Bank officials. "We are not attempting to do the impossible. Success is entirely within reach. The challenge is less technical, than political. It is about leadership, about compromise, about countries recognizing their common interest in success and the collective costs of failure. As in other Rounds, US-EU leadership is indispensable. Unlike previous Rounds, leadership from key emerging players and ownership by developing countries is now just as important."

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