According to director general Pascal Lamy, World Trade Organisation, members may be able to conclude the Doha Round of talks next year paving the way for a global deal to cut agricultural subsidies and tariffs on manufactured products.
Lamy was speaking after conclusion of a three-day summit of the Cairns Group of agricultural exporting nations in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia.
He added that the US and India had given a clear signal that the process should resume. WTO members are scheduled to meet in Geneva later this year to formulate a roadmap to lead to the conclusion of the round. He said that the round should be completed by 2010.
Lamy's prediction raises hopes of some agreement on global trade liberalisation following failure of last July's talks when negotiations broke down over a clash between US and India over how poor nations could raise tariffs when agricultural imports surged.
Meanwhile, Indian trade minister Anand Sharma yesterday said that his meeting with the new US trade representative Ron Kirk had been ''very positive'' and he expected resumption of talks sooner rather than later.
The Doha Round will see negotiations on a pact which will allow wealthy nations including EU and US lower farm subsidies and tariffs in exchange for China, India, Brazil and other emerging economies opening up their markets to import of farm goods and manufactured products.
He said that around 80 per cent of the job had been completed and 20 per cent remained. He said that he saw positive signs that Kirk and Sharma engaging in a process that would lead to the conclusion of the round sometime next year.
The US and India meanwhile joined calls for urgently resuming the stalled WTO talks at the summit.
The US-India initiative received support from Australia's trade minister, Simon Crean, who termed it as ''enormously encouraging''.
In a communique following the meeting US and India backed the 19 members of the Cairns Group in calling for talks to restart soon.
"Senior negotiators must reconvene in Geneva as soon as possible to map out a clear path … and to start down that path before the European summer break," the statement said.
After seven years of negotiations, the so-called Doha Development Round of WTO trade talks failed over ''safeguards'' that the developing nations led by China and India had proposed to put in place to protect their farmers in exchange for opening up their markets to overseas agricultural exports.
Crean said that these issues were resolvable but the political will was not there in 2008. He added that the global financial crisis had changed the dynamics as trade was now seen as a stimulus to the world economy.