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WTO Wants Faster Progress On Doha Round

by Lorys Charalambous, for LawAndTax-News.com, Cyprus

15 March 2007


The WTO's Director-General Pascal Lamy, who told his General Council a month ago that the Doha Round was back in business, said this week in New Delhi that: “Time is not on our side ... the multilateral process of negotiations must therefore kick-in at full speed”.

Mr Lamy said that since February the negotiations have resumed in full mode in all negotiating groups, with members also working bilaterally, touching base and checking the impact of possible compromise numbers on products of their major export interests and main import sensitivities.

He said that there is also renewed engagement and support at the highest political level: "Last week, the US, EC, Brazil and India held bilateral contacts in London and Geneva at Ministerial level. I had separate meetings with the four ministers and I was informed that some progress has been made in testing hypothesis, approaches and formulae."

But, says the Director-General, it is all taking place at too slow a pace: "Time is not on our side and many WTO members are becoming 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."

Since Doha negotiations collapsed in Hong Kong last year, Lamy has ceaselessly shuttled around the world in an attempt to get major participants to show enough flexibility to allow the talks to restart, and a breakthrough seemed to take place at the Davos Forum in late January.

In fact, the assumption that a Democrat-controlled US Congress would inevitably refuse to renew the President's fast-track negotiating authority does not necessarily seem to be correct - although it remains to be seen whether the Republicans would be prepared to pay the price the Democrats will demand.


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