SA to participate in 2010 Doha Round of negotiations

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pretoria - South Africa is to participate in the next Doha Round of World Trade Organisation negotiations, set to take place next year, to ensure developing nations have a voice, government confirmed on Thursday.

"South Africa will participate in these talks and assess their impact on our economy," said Minister for Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency, Collins Chabane, following an ordinary Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

He said South Africa would work closely with other emerging and developing nations to ensure that the development agenda was advanced to ensure a proper balance between the demand for industrial tariff reduction and agricultural negotiations.

The Department of Trade and Industry is expected to coordinate all departments to ensure a common South African position during these talks.

The meeting noted the report on South Africa's participation at the World Trade Organisation Ministerial meetings.

Leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised countries and five major developing countries agreed to conclude the Doha Round trade talks in 2010, on the sidelines of the G8 Summit in Italy in July.

"We, together with the leaders of Australia, Indonesia and Republic of Korea and in the presence of the director general of the World Trade Organisation, are committed to seek an ambitious and balanced conclusion to the Doha Development Round in 2010, consistent with its mandate, building on the progress already made, including with regard to modalities," said a joint declaration after their meeting.

The leaders of the two groups pledged to achieve ambitious, balanced results and instruct their trade ministers to meet before the next Group of 20 industrial and developing nations in Pittsburgh in September.

"In order to fill in the remaining gaps in the negotiations as soon as possible, we instruct our ministers in charge of trade to explore immediately all possible avenues for direct engagement within the WTO and to meet prior to the Pittsburgh Summit," it said.

The Doha Development Round talks, which was launched in 2001 with the aim of helping poor countries through trade, should have wrapped up years ago, but were delayed for several times because of rifts between developed and developing countries, mainly India and the United States over tariffs and agriculture subsidies.

In his State of the Nation Address, President Jacob Zuma made the conclusion of the WTO Doha Development round of negotiations a priority for government.

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