WTO Director Still Hopeful on Doha

World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy says time is running out for a Doha Round agreement, but he remains hopeful as he presses for speedier negotiations.

If the World Trade Organization's Doha Round of global trade talks are to end in an agreement, participating nations need to speed up their multilateral negotiations, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said at a development seminar in New Delhi, India.

Lamy says major WTO players are showing renewed support for a Doha agreement, as the U.S., European Union, Brazil and India met in London and Geneva recently for bilateral discussions. Lamy says he had meeting with ministers from each of those parties and was assured that they are making progress.

However, Lamy says, this process "is taking place at too slow a pace."

"Time is not on our side and many WTO members are becoming impatient," Lamy says. "The multilateral process of negotiations must therefore kick-in at full speed, and the Chairpersons of various negotiation groups must come into the centre stage. We need to speed up the process so as to grasp the window of opportunity which closes at the end of June with the expiry of the U.S. Trade Promotion Authority."

Meanwhile, European Union Agriculture Comissioner Mariann Fisher Boel sounded ready to make some concessions in the contentious issue of agricultural subsidies - but only to an extent.

"Our approach to trade, food, farming and countryside should be balanced," Boel says. "Let me make myself clear. I am certainly not saying that a sensible agricultural policy means carte blanche to close off markets and subsidize farming."

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