Top trade nations set July deadline for Doha deal: EU

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Leading trading nations agreed Saturday to conclude negotiations for a free trade deal by July, European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.

"Everybody agreed that we are in the endgame, that we should get a deal in July," said De Gucht, after a meeting with his trade counterparts, including US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming.

"There is much work to be done, and we will draft a text in March," he added.

Launched in the Qatari capital in 2001, the Doha Round of talks for a global trade pact has repeatedly missed deadlines amid disagreements between developing and developed nations on the levels of cuts to be imposed on industrial goods tariffs and agriculture subsidies.

On Friday, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a plea for the rapid conclusion of the deal, saying that it would amount to a cost-free stimulus for the economy.

Cameron made a strong push for negotiators to move towards a deal this year before the next annual Davos meeting, saying: "If we come back and we're still talking about it, then I think that would be hopeless."

"This has to be the year in which it happens, we cannot go on after a decade with another year."

© 2011 AFP

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