WTO talks extends to next week

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New Delhi, Jul 26 (UNI) Trying to save the week-long global trade talks at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, WTO chief Pascal Lamy today announced that ministers of 35 key countries will meet again on Monday to build on some '' convergence'' they have achieved into, what he called a 'global package' on free trade in agriculture and industrial products.

In a report to an informal meeting of all-powerful trade negotiations committee, he said after a week of hard work by ministers, there was now ''a basis for possible convergence.'' In his closing remarks, made available on the WTO website, Lamy said, '' After one week of hard work, I believe we have a basis for possible convergence''. Underlining the need to build further on the convergence into 'a global package', he said ''a few more days of very hard work'' would be required.

The ministers, including Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath, today discussed six key issues in agriculture and three in non-agriculture market access(NAMA) industrial goods, showing some forward movement towards arriving at a new global free trade pact.

The Monday to Saturday talks, which were scheduled to end today, have been extended into next week, with Mr Lamy saying that the ministers will meet on Monday.

Earlier, in his opening remarks the WTO chief underlined cotton, preference erosion, tropical products, bound in-quota tariff rates, tariff simplification and tariff quota administration and sensitive products as the key elements for negotiations in agriculture.

The three important NAMA elements unveiled by him were, however, silent on India's sensitivity on its nascent industries such as automobiles.

In a last ditch effort to find an agreement on Doha modalities, Mr Lamy circulated fresh proposals on agriculture and industrial products yesterday, adding that intensive consultations would continue on the outstanding issues.

The Doha Round was launched in the Qatari capital seven years ago but has been deadlocked because of disputes between the rich developed world and the poorer developing nations on trade in farm and industrial products.

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