Delhi ‘breakthrough’ will restart Doha trade talks: Anand Sharma (Roundup)

September 4th, 2009 - 10:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Sep 4 (IANS) Top officials of the 153 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will meet in Geneva later this month after a “breakthrough” was reached to resume the Doha Round of trade talks, India’s Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said Friday.
“We have reached an agreement to intensify negotiations. There has been a breakthrough, If I can use this expression. The impasse has been broken,” said Sharma after a two-day meet here among the representatives of some 40 key WTO members.

“It has been backed by all with strong consensus and unanimous endorsement that the negotiators and senior officials will meet in Geneva on September 14,” the trade minister told a press conference.

Later, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh applauded the trade ministers during an interaction with them at his residence for the breakthrough reached at the meeting.

“This will uplift the animal spirit of economic agents all over the world. Cooperation in matters of trade in this increasingly interdependent world is inevitable and inescapable,” an official quoted the prime minister as having said.

During the meeting, which was proposed by Manmohan Singh during the London Summit of G20 in April, it was evident some key differences remained in defining a clear path to conclude the multilateral trade talks.

At the same time, there was also a realisation from all quarters that all such differences needed to be resolved for a healthy multilateral trading system, as also because of the 2010 deadline for Doha Round, diplomats said.

According to WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, key differences still remain between rich economies like the US and advanced developing nations like India, China and Brazil.

“The US is ready to even clinch a final deal, but that may not exactly be the Indian view or a Chinese view or the Brazilian view,” Lamy said at an interactive session organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here after conclusion of the mini-ministerial meeting.

“What happened today is a reality check. We shouldn’t underestimate that. They (representatives at the ministerial conference) have the political will to conclude the Doha Round and were unanimous and that is extremely clear. There is a big political boost,” he said.

Among the key stakeholders who attended the two-day meet here were US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Brazilian Foreign Trade Minister Celso Amorim and Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean, apart from Lamy.

The Doha Development Round was launched in the Qatari capital in 2001. But it went into an impasse over serious differences on a host of issues, which could not be settled during subsequent meetings in Washington, London, Bali, Paris, L’Aquila and Singapore.

In Geneva last year, the talks once again collapsed because of the divergence over the special safeguard mechanism - a provision that would permit developing countries to guard against sudden surges in imports, or when commodity prices decline.

In the meeting Thursday-Friday, the assembled leaders said a they would give one more push to resume the talks.

“There was a unanimous affirmation on the need to conclude the Doha Round within 2010. There was also a clear recognition that differences subsist on issues and intensifying negotiations was the first step towards bridging these gaps,” said Sharma.

“Mindful of the fact that the Doha Round has been in progress for eight years, it was agreed that all efforts must be made to bring the Round to an ambitious and development oriented conclusion within 2010 as resolved by world leaders.”

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