WTO Doha negotiations to resume in Geneva

08-09-2008 | |

Senior officials from the key trading nations are to reunite next week in Geneva in order to restart WTO Doha negotiations and push for a breakthrough this autumn.

DG Agriculture’s top official, Jean-Luc Demarty, is expected to arrive in Geneva on Tuesday. The Director General will join fellow senior officials from other key nations to discuss technical solutions to unresolved questions from July’s Geneva ministerial.

Chief among these will be the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM), the issue which ultimately derailed talks in Geneva and thwarted the progress yielded in the 9-day talks.

Positive intentions
Many positive statements of intent have been made over recent weeks, with US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim and even French President Nicolas Sarkozy – holder of the EU Council presidency – all issuing support for a return to the negotiating table.

WTO Director General Pascal Lamy has visited India and the US – the key protagonists in the SSM disagreement – since the talks, and has now warned that time is running out if WTO members are serious about reviving talks this year.

Crawford Falconer, the chair of farm trade negotiations, sounded a positive note as he told reporters that negotiators were “are all in a mood to roll their sleeves up and get to work,” after the first meeting of the full WTO membership to take place since the summer break.

The SSM is a new safeguard tool proposed for developing countries, allowing import surged to be met with a tariff hike. Disagreement occurred in July over whether these tariff hikes should be allowed to rise over pre-Doha bound levels, and how big a surge should trigger its usage.

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