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Pascal Lamy Still On Doha Marathon

by Mike Godfrey, for LawAndTax-News.com, New York

28 March 2007


Director-General Pascal Lamy, at a seminar in Mexico City on 23 March 2007, asked Mexico and other members for support in concluding successfully the Doha Round. “We are not very far from that success — but this is the final stretch, and as in so many human endeavours, the last part is the most difficult”, he said.

Lamy said that events such as the Cancun Ministerial Conference, in 2003, had a positive effect to the potential outcome of the Doha Development Agenda. 'What can be achieved today is more balanced and at the same time more substantial than what was proposed four years ago — but it was necessary to go through those events,' he said.

Doha Round negotiations resumed in full mode in February in all negotiating groups. Over the last few weeks, the US, EC, Brazil and India held bilateral contacts in London and Geneva at Ministerial level. Lamy said that some progress had been achieved in testing hypothesis, approaches and formulae, but that the process is taking place at too slow a pace.

'Time is not on our side,' he said, 'and many WTO members are becoming increasingly impatient. The multilateral process of negotiations must therefore kick-in at full speed, and the Chairpersons of various negotiation groups must come into the centre stage. We need to speed up the process so as to grasp the window of opportunity which closes at the end of June with the expiry of the US Trade Promotion Authority.'

As regards agricultural subsidies, one of the main sticking points in the negotiations, Lamy said that what is already on the table today is pretty impressive, but that the ball is very much in the court of the United States to offer deeper cuts in its agricultural subsidies beyond its current proposal.

On agricultural market access, said Lamy, it is mainly for the EU and the G-10 (including countries like Japan and Korea) to agree on greater cuts in tariffs and enhanced access to their internal markets, beyond their current positions.

Concluded the Director-General: 'The Doha Development Agenda is the biggest challenge for the WTO since its creation in 1995. It is a challenge to achieve what was started in the Uruguay Round: a more level playing field in areas of particular interests to developing countries, such as agriculture. It is a challenge because it touches the edge of some of our Member's most entrenched interests. It will therefore take a great deal of political courage and commitment to conclude this Round successfully. We are not very far from that success — but this is the final stretch, and as in so many human endeavours, the last part is the most difficult. I truly believe that this can be achieved, and I count on the support of Mexico — and on the good vibes of its divinities.'


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