EXCLUSIVE - WTO chief calls meeting to revitalise Doha trade round

GENEVA Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:50pm IST

WTO Director General Pascal Lamy speaks during The African Economic Conference (AEC) jointly organized by the African Development Bank (AFDB) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa  (UNECA) in Tunis October 27, 2010. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi/Files

WTO Director General Pascal Lamy speaks during The African Economic Conference (AEC) jointly organized by the African Development Bank (AFDB) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Tunis October 27, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Zoubeir Souissi/Files

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GENEVA (Reuters) - World Trade Organization chief Pascal Lamy has invited its 153 member delegations to a meeting on Nov. 30, seeking to build on calls this month by the G20 and APEC summits to finish the Doha round of global trade talks.

Lamy wants to revitalise the stalled talks on global commerce which began nine years ago, sources close to the trade negotiations said on Thursday.

A series of meetings in recent months by small groups of key ambassadors to brainstorm on how to move the talks forward has led to a greatly improved atmosphere among negotiators in contrast to gloom and frustration earlier this year.

But Lamy and senior negotiators say leaders still need to signal their political will to reach a deal so that markets can be opened up in food, manufactured goods and services while helping poor countries.

Lamy believes calls to conclude the talks which were issued at the summits of the G20 rich and emerging economies and APEC Asia-Pacific countries this month have sent the right signals. The G20 spoke of 2011 being a narrow window of opportunity.

He has told delegates that leaders expect them to deliver a Doha deal next year, the sources said.

Exhortations to reach a Doha deal have been routine at summits for years, and it remains to be seen whether 2011 will simply join the long list of missed deadlines.

The latest call comes against a background of protectionist pressures exacerbated by tensions over exchange rates and economic policy. But the sources said Lamy hopes it will provide the political momentum to translate fresh optimism among trade diplomats in Geneva into the real give and take of negotiation.

All sides in Geneva agree that some give and take is needed, but there are differences over how big a push is needed to reach a deal approved in national capitals.

The United States, ultimately the key to any deal, wants big emerging economies like China, India and Brazil to go much further in opening their markets than already agreed.

The emerging powers say they have already committed to enough in a negotiation that is supposed to be about helping developing countries, and they do not envisage more than tinkering at the margins.

The ground for the Nov. 30 meeting is likely to be prepared with a smaller session with ambassadors from the main trading powers and the diplomats that head the various negotiating groups, one trade source said.

Outside Geneva, EU trade chief Karel De Gucht is also looking at bringing together ministers from key players later this year or early next, trade sources said.

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