Consensus only option to conclude Doha: Lamy

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NEW DELHI, Aug 13 (UNI) Maintaining the pitch for early conclusion of Doha round of global trade talks, World Trade Organisation (WTO) Chief Pascal Lamy today said there was no other option but to build a consensus for reaching a new international trade deal.

Participating in an international conference here, he, however, also called for a probe to find out whether the rules encompassing the multilateral trading system reflect the pro-development stance of the Doha round.

Participating in the roundtable on Mainstreaming Development in the WTO, Lamy said, ''mainstreaming development in the WTO had been rendered more difficult today than it was 20 years ago'' because of differences on special and differential treatment of products.

The July 21-29 ministerial talks at WTO in Geneva collapsed because of divergent positions taken by developing and developed economies on the issue of special safeguard mechanism (SSM) sought by the former to protect their farmers from import surge of cheap farm products from the latter where farmers are highly subsidised by their governments.

''The world of trade and participation by the member countries has dramatically changed during the last 20 years,'' Lamy said at the concluding day of the conference on Global Partnership for Development.

The conference was jointing organised by CUTS International, an NGO think tank, and Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

''We now have 15 trade unions (country and regional groupings) within the WTO, which as powerful coalitions negotiate on the nitty gritties of trade.'' Leaders of these trade unions (40 ministers from different countries) vigorously participate in the ''Green Room'' of today, he added.

The Green Room in WTO at Geneva is not a location but a process in which heads of delegations seek consensus informally during negotiations. About 40 minnisters took part in the failed ministerial Green Room held in Geneva from July 21 to 29.

Lamy said said to gain consensus among the WTO's diverse membership of 153 countries and territories requires flexibility both in the content and method in negotiating a final agreement.

Speaking of the lack of financial resources available to most developing countries for a meaningful participation in the WTO negotiations, Commerce Secretary Gopal K Pillai suggested that participation of delegations from poor nations could be funded by the UNCTAD or the WTO.

He also highlighted the difficulties of the developing nations in keeping pace with the ever-changing standards adopted by the developed countries. This, he said, often acted as a non-tariff barrier.

Commonwealth Secretariat deputy secretry general Ransford Smith; UNCTAD's acting Deputy Secretary General Lakshmi Puri and UN's former under Secretary General Nitin Desai also participated in the roundtable.

UNI SAA SBA HT1612

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