Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What will it take to reach a global trade deal by 2010?

The latest deadline for the Doha round of world trade talks is set at 2010. The problem is, many deadlines in this round of talks have come and gone.

The head of the World Trade Organization tried to put some heat on world leaders to start talking and making concessions in remarks made today. However, hopes are dim unless world leaders especially those in Washington are serious in compromising.

From Reuters, writer Jonathan Lynn gives us this round up of opinions.

WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said countries were making some progress in the latest intensive negotiations in Geneva in areas such as facilitating trade and the technical work necessary to implement an eventual deal in agriculture.

"But I also believe it will be difficult to get to 2010 without a serious acceleration of the pace," Lamy said.

"We need to see real negotiations emerge, not only informal consultations and discussions, but real exchanges among members," the Frenchman told the WTO's General Council.

Leaders of the G20 rich and emerging countries called at their summit in Pittsburgh last month for the Doha round, now in its eighth year, to be completed in 2010.

That was the latest in a series of calls to finish the longest running trade round, launched in late 2001 to open markets and help developing countries prosper through trade.

But the high-level political exhortations have not been matched by compromise and movement in the Geneva talks, leading many to question whether the leaders are sincere in their call for real negotiations.

"Technically the work is almost done. What we are missing now is political will," said Egypt's trade minister, Rachid Mohamed Rachid.

Rachid, echoing a view held by many emerging nations and rich countries alike, said the problem was that Washington -- the key to any deal -- was not engaging fully in the talks.

"The United States has not made their position clear yet vis-a-vis trade," he told a meeting of the Arab-Swiss Chamber of Commerce in response to a question from Reuters.

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