WTO's Lamy urged to craft compromise deal

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WASHINGTON, Sep 24 (Reuters) The head of the World Trade Organisation needs to put forward a compromise deal to bring a successful end to nearly six years of global trade talks, former US and European officials said today.

''WTO Director General Pascal Lamy is the only one who can force the recalcitrant countries to bridge the remaining gaps,'' Stuart Eizenstat, a former US ambassador to the European Union, and Hugo Paemen, a former EU ambassador to the United States, said in an opinion piece in the Washington Post.

''After many failed initiatives in the Doha round, it is time for Lamy to guide members to a middle ground.'' The recommendation that Lamy take a more active role comes as world leaders are gathering in New York for the UN General Assembly meeting.

Many experts see the next weeks as a final make-or-break opportunity for the WTO talks, launched in late 2001 in Doha, Qatar. Negotiators have been poring over a pair of draft texts released in July in Geneva for reaching a deal on agricultural and industrial trade.

Eizenstat and Paemen said a deal was within reach that would cut rich country farm subsidies and tariffs in exchange for advanced developing countries opening their markets to more farm and manufacturing goods.

''The problem is the lack of political will from all key countries to go the last mile,'' they wrote.

Lamy could change the equation with a text that pushes the United States and the European Union to make deeper farm trade reforms, Brazil to open its industrial goods market and India to allow more agricultural imports.

''No country will want to be seen as having sabotaged the WTO'' by rejecting the deal, Eizenstat and Paemen said.

They drew a parallel to a compromise text in December 1990 by Arthur Dunkel, then director general of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the predecessor to the WTO.

The ''Dunkel text'' -- originally opposed by many countries -- eventually formed the basis for the 1994 Uruguay round world trade deal, they said.

''The sooner a 'Lamy text' is on the table, the better for the WTO, for open trade and for a rules-based multilateral trading system,'' Eizenstat and Paemen wrote.

Reuters GT DB2150

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