BERLIN (Reuters) - Participants in the Doha world trade talks are preparing for a final deal but there is no point setting an artificial deadline, the head of the World Trade Organisation told a German daily.
The Doha talks, launched in late 2001, aim to break down barriers to global commerce but are deadlocked, largely over differences between the United States and the big emerging economies of China, Brazil and India.
In a sign of the bleak prospects for a Doha deal any time soon, G20 leaders dropped their reference to 2010 as a target date for completion of the talks and set no new date.
World Trade Organisation Director-General Pascal Lamy was optimistic, however, telling Handelsblatt it was the first time the G20 had had “substantial discussions” on the world trade talks.
“The focus of the G20 was world trade and the economic crisis, and everyone agreed that trade should not become a victim of the crisis,” he was quoted on Friday as saying.
“Participants are preparing for the end game of the world trade talks. There is no point setting artificial deadlines.”
Member countries have accused one another of not putting enough on the table, and of seeking too much in return for their own offers.
The U.S. ambassador to the WTO told Reuters in an interview the talks were stuck because of a refusal by China and other big emerging economies to open their markets.
Lamy said, however, that China was abiding by the rules, adding that debates over statistical trade surpluses — also with regard to Germany’s reliance on exports — were artificial and irrelevant.
“The statement that not all countries can raise their exports is a macroeconomic consideration and doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “Each country can raise its contribution to global production if trade is open.”
Reporting by Sarah Marsh