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Swiss Government Hosts Informal WEF Meeting

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

30 January 2007

At the invitation of Swiss Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, an informal meeting of around thirty ministers who reflect the different sensitivities in the Doha Round negotiations took place on the margins of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos last week.

The participants at the meeting, held on Saturday morning, expressed a renewed commitment to put the Doha Round back on track, and to achieve a broad-based deal.

Following the decision to resume WTO negotiations on 16 November 2006, technical discussions intensified in Geneva. The aim of the meeting in Davos, which was also attended by WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, was to take stock of the stand of the negotiations and to exchange ideas on how best to advance the process of the Doha Round negotiations.

The participants underlined the need for a more comprehensive approach to negotiations, and shared the view that an inclusive process that allows for all sensitivities to be expressed represents the best way of achieving a successful outcome.

They expressed a strong wish for a quick resumption of full-scale activity in Geneva, and discussed the prerequisites for taking advantage of the window of opportunity for making substantial progress.

The clear signal for the resumption of full scale negotiations in Geneva got strong support from political leaders and the business community gathered in Davos.

Lamy warned negotiators in a report to the General Council last December that there must be "significant progress" by the early spring if there is to be a chance of finishing the Doha round this year.

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