WTO mulls partial Doha deal for poorest states

31st May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Member states at the World Trade Organization are looking at moving stalled Doha free trade talks forward by first agreeing on areas specific to the poorest states, the trade body's chief said Tuesday.

"Priority should be given to LDC (least developed countries) issues," Pascal Lamy, WTO director-general said after consultations with member states.

"These LDC specific issues should be put on a fast track," Lamy said.

The world trade chief said at the end of April that the Doha round of global talks aimed at expanding free trade was on the brink of failure.

Nevertheless, Lamy noted from his meetings with members that "nobody wants to drop the Doha mandate."

In a bid to revive the talks, member states are looking at a three-track system, with the priority being a deal on issues which directly impact the poorest states.

In addition, they are trying for an agreement by December on LDC-related issues as well as other issues that have a development component.

Finally, the toughest issues which have held up talks so far -- including industrial tariffs and agriculture negotiations -- will "move into a slow lane," Lamy said.

The round of negotiations was launched in the Qatari capital Doha in 2001 primarily to help developing countries that felt left out of the economic benefits of globalisation and the previous round of liberalisation negotiations.

© 2011 AFP

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