* Faster pace, more substance needed
* Mexico proposes trade-offs solution
By Jonathan Lynn
GENEVA, Feb 2 Trading powers who have embarked
on an intensified push for a new trade deal sought by political
leaders must go faster if they are to have any hope of finishing
the Doha round this year, the head of the WTO said on Wednesday.
Trade ministers meeting in the Swiss resort of Davos last
week agreed to push for an outline agreement by July and to tell
their negotiators at the World Trade Organization to show enough
flexibility to clinch a deal in the long-running talks.
But WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy told a meeting of the
trade body's 153 members to review progress on the nine-year-old
talks that movement on substance in real negotiations was needed
as well as a change in mood.
"Atmospheric improvement is good and important, but we will
not advance on air alone," he said.
Lamy said it was clear the broad negotiating groups working
on tearing down trade barriers in areas such as agriculture,
industrial goods and services were now working hard.
But much more must be done in the bilateral talks and
discussions among small groups of key players that are critical
for a deal, and this would require give and take, he said.
The Doha talks were launched in late 2001 to boost the world
economy and help poor countries prosper through trade.
Since then they have stalled repeatedly, the last time in
July 2008, and trade diplomats at Wednesday's meeting said 2011
was probably the last chance to reach a deal.
Countries including Mexico and Indonesia said failure would
damage the multilateral rules-based trading system that is
umpired by the WTO and is credited with having prevented
1930s-style tit-for-tat protectionism in the financial crisis.
The uncertainties in the global economy made concluding the
round now more important than ever, China's WTO ambassador, Yi
Xiaozhun, told the meeting.
SCALE OF AMBITION
One issue in the talks now is whether it is enough to tweak
the negotiating drafts that were drawn up in 2008, or whether
major changes are needed for a deal.
The United States and European Union say the 2008 texts have
too many gaps, but many developing countries are wary of
reopening them for fear of losing what they have gained so far.
Big emerging economies like China, Brazil and India -- the
main targets of U.S. ambition -- say what is already on the
table represents a fine balance, and if rich countries want more
they must pay with concessions of their own.
If rich countries wanted better access to markets for
industrial goods or more liberalisation of services in emerging
economies, Brazil's ambassador Roberto Azevedo told the meeting,
they should offer something in agriculture -- a reference to
high U.S. and EU farm subsidies that developing countries say
"If we all understand and accept this, we are in good shape
for this final push," he said.
Mexico's WTO ambassador, Fernando de Mateo, proposed a way
that key players could make trade-offs across agriculture,
industrial goods, environmental goods and services, and other
services, giving the broader deal sought by rich countries but
requiring developed nations to do more.
WTO members hope to produce new draft texts as the basis for
an agreement by late April and reach an outline deal by July.
(For TIMELINE on future Doha talks click on [ID:nLDE71111VF] )
(Editing by Jon Hemming)