Developing countries call for urgent action on Doha Round

Monday, November 30, 2009

Geneva - Developing members in the World Trade Organization (WTO) called for urgent action to resolve the remaining issues in the Doha Round of trade negotiations so that a shared objective to conclude the round in 2010 could be accomplished.

"There is urgent need to translate political statements into concrete engagement," said a statement issued by the Group of 20 (G-20) coalition of developing members ahead of the seventh WTO Ministerial Conference to be opened on Monday.

"In order to achieve convergence, there is a need for a process that would lead to a narrowing of differences on remaining issues within the next few months," said the statement.

The G-20 includes such major developing members as India, Brazil and China, and its statement was supported by other developing member groups in the Doha Round negotiations, involving more than 100 countries.

"We want to conclude it early," said Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorin, coordinator of a G-20 ministerial meeting on Sunday.

At a press conference, Amorin also stressed that a successful Doha Round means it should be development friendly.

According to the statement, the global economic crisis has highlighted the importance and value of development-oriented and rules-based multilateral trading system.

Concluding the Doha Round would help strengthen confidence in the multilateral trading system, guard against the rise of protectionism and boost the global economy while reducing its asymmetries, it said.

The Doha Round was launched late 2001 with a primary goal to help poor countries prosper through trade opening.

But eight years passing by, the complex round is still not in its endgame as WTO members are still not closing gaps on such key issues as agricultural tariffs, subsidies and industrial market access.

After several missed deadlines, WTO members have set a new deadline for concluding the round in 2010.

But doubts have increased recently about the possibility of meeting the new deadline, as the United States administration seems to focus more on domestic issues such as health care than the free trade negotiations.

The statement issued on Sunday showed that developing countries "mean business," and they called for developed countries to respond, said Amorin.

The seventh WTO Ministerial Conference to be opened on Monday will not be a Doha Round negotiating session.

However, trade ministers will take the chance to discuss the current status of the round and how to negotiate in the next few months, according to WTO officials.