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WTO's Pascal Lamy To Hold On-Line Chat

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

12 December 2006

WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy will hold an on-line 'chat' session with up to 500 questioners on December 18th on the prospects for saving the becalmed Doha Round.

In July the five year Doha Development Round negotiations were suspended following the collapse of Ministerial level negotiations in Geneva. Calls to resume the negotiations as soon as possible have come from various forums around the world but the future of the negotiations remains highly uncertain. What are the prospects for 2007?

The chat session will take place from 17:00-18:00 Geneva time (that's EST plus 6 hours). Pascal Lamy will accept questions in English, French or Spanish on the suspension, the prospects for relaunching the talks and the future of the WTO and the global trading system.

To send advance questions that will be answered during the chat: There are instructions for joining the live session at

Resumption of the WTO's Doha Round negotiations at a technical level in Geneva recently has been welcomed, but Pascal Lamy still says that ministerial negotiations would remain impossible until Members came forward with softened bargaining positions, he re-started informal discussions on all issues in the stalled talks.

Lamy said that there seemed to widespread support among negotiators for multilateralising their contacts and bringing them back to the negotiating groups. "In practice," said Lamy, "this means increasing the number of contacts in the various negotiating areas and broadening them in the interest of transparency and inclusiveness."

Elliot Paige, Charge d’Affairs at the OECS Geneva Technical Mission said: “The resumption means that OECS Countries can now reengage in a very intense way in technical negotiations at the WTO. We very much support and think that there is a lot for us to gain with the multilateral trading system. We need to take part in the process with our capital based people at a maximum level.”

However, Paige warned that negotiators should avoid the temptation to defer consideration of the pricklier issues which are of particular importance to developing countries: “There have been talks at maybe looking at the easier issues first and maybe leaving those issues that may be more difficult to negotiate such as development issues behind. We don’t believe that we should leave anything behind. We should certainly have a horizontal approach to all issues and to all areas of interest for all members of the WTO... We should negotiate Development issues up front. This is why we are negotiating in this development round," said Paige.

Lamy continues to remind negotiators of the limited time remaining for talks. "There must be significant progress by the early spring if we are to have a chance of finishing the round next year," he said last week. President Bush is due to lose his 'fast-track' trade treaty authority next June. While it is too late to complete the Doha Round by then, there remains a chance - albeit a slim one now that Democrats are in charge in Congress - that his authority might be extended for a few months to prevent a new treaty from being savaged to death in the Senate.

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