WTO members seek conclusion of Doha Round within 2011

Prakash Chawla

Davos, Jan 29 (PTI) Trade ministers from key WTO membercountries, including India, today agreed that efforts neededto be stepped up to conclude a multilateral trade deal thisyear under the Doha Round.

"In the meeting lasting three hours, there was anoptimism that a window of opportunity (for concluding thedeal) in 2011 can be accessed," India''s Commerce and IndustryMinister Anand Sharma told reporters here after thedeliberations.

Besides India, about two dozen ministers from the US,European Union, Brazil, China, South Africa, Australia andJapan were present at the informal meeting of WTO membershosted by Swiss Federal Councillor of Economic Affairs JohannN Schneider-Ammann.

On the US demands that developing countries shouldcontribute more for conclusion of the Doha deal, Sharma said"the demands have to be reasonable".

Meanwhile, the Swiss minister is believed to have said atthe meeting that ''those who asked for more should be preparedto pay more''.

Differences between rich and developing nations have beena stumbling block in the conclusion of the talks. India andother developing nations are defending their agriculturalmarkets to protect millions of subsistence farmers from easyimports that may result from the multilateral agreement.

The US and the other developed countries, however, seekmore market access in developing nations, including India.

Doha round of talks under the aegis of the World TradeOrganisation (WTO) started in the Qatari capital in 2001 forachieving a global trade deal, but a breakthrough has notemerged as yet.

On the eve of the meeting on the sidelines of annualWorld Economic Forum (WEF), India, Brazil, South Africa andChina had met yesterday.

Parleys were also made last evening by the Group of Sevenincluding India, South Africa and Brazil to give a push to theDoha Round of talks.

Sharma said that among the members "there is a consensusthat we should try and conclude the deal this year".

While the ministers said that the talks were held in afrank atmosphere, sources said that the US persisted with thesame old demands.

The sources added that several ministers said thatefforts should be made that the drafts (on agriculture andindustrial goods) are ready by April and an agreement isreached by July.

There was no specific proposal discussed in the meetingand everybody was stocking with their old demands, they said.

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