World trade deal unlikely in three months

2nd February 2007, Comments 0 comments

SAO PAULO, Feb 1, 2007 (AFP) - France's international trade minister said Thursday she holds little hope that moribund World Trade Organization talks can be revived and produce an agreement in the short term.

SAO PAULO, Feb 1, 2007 (AFP) - France's international trade minister said Thursday she holds little hope that moribund World Trade Organization talks can be revived and produce an agreement in the short term.

Asked whether the talks could be wrapped up in three months, Christine Lagarde told reporters: "I personally doubt it very much, given the amount of work that needs to be done."

"That was the work that has been carried out for two years now I do not see how in a matter of three months it could be completed," she said on the first day of a visit to Brazil.

WTO chief Pascal Lamy on Wednesday called for a quick and full resumption of multilateral talks aimed at reaching agreement on the stalled Doha Round.

The Doha Round seeks to topple trade barriers to agriculture, industrial goods and services, but was undermined in Cancun, Mexico when Brazil led a Group of 21 developing countries to demand that developed cut agricultural barriers.

The talks have been moribund since June, but this weekend on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland important negotiators gave commitments to breathe new life into the talks.

One stumbling block is the United States, where President George W. Bush has lost his so-called fast-track authority to negotiate trade deals that Congress may approve or reject but not amend, and now faces opposition majorities in both houses of Congress. Democrats are likely to insist on environmental and labor rights assurances in any fast-track authority they approve.

"If the majority of the (US) Congress is not prepared to renew the trade promotion authority before the end of June, that means we are on a longer course of negotiations," Lagarde said.

Bush said Wednesday: "We're going to work hard to complete it. We are dedicated to making sure we have a successful Doha Round."

However, European Commission spokesman Michael Mann said Thursday: "The US will need to propose more ambitious cuts and disciplines in trade-distorting domestic farm subsidies."

Lagarde said: "The good news is that these negotiators want to tackle the job again. The bad news is that nothing much is on the table so far."

Brazil's top trade negotiator, foreign minister Celso Amorim, said Saturday that he was upbeat after the meeting of ministers from 23 countries and the EU at Davos.

"My sense of the meeting was a positive one. I left with a higher feeling of optimism," Amorim said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Wold trade talks

0 Comments To This Article