WTO negotiators hope to break "deadlock" over farm talks

25 Jul 2007


Mumbai: Negotiators at the world trade talks pushing for a deal to open world markets for agricultural goods have called for fresh proposals for breaking a deadlock and reopen negotiations in September.

Crawford Falconer, chairman of the World Trade Organisation''s agriculture talks and New Zealand''s WTO ambassador, said negotiators "are all ready to work."

He said the new proposals can still be revised to offer a broad range of possible cuts to farm market protections. He, however, declined to say how quickly countries might inch toward a solution. "It takes as long as it takes," he said.

On July 17, Falconer and Canadian ambassador to the WTO Don Stephenson, who chairs the WTO''s industrial goods talks, circulated draft proposals to help find a way out of the impasse.

The United States, which has currently capped its agricultural subsidies at about $48 billion, also welcomed the new proposals as a launching point.

"We will be back on day one and stay through the process," said Joe Glauber, chief US agriculture negotiator.

US, he said, wanted more concessions in return for cuts to its subsidies, and rejected the $13-16.4 billion range which Falconer suggested. Washington is still clinging to its earlier offer of $17 billion.

Negotiators are expected to return to Geneva on July 26 to discuss the fresh proposals on trade in manufactured goods, which urge developing countries to offer more than they have so far made.

WTO chief Pascal Lamy has been pushing to wrap trade talks ahead of the US and Indian elections.

Negotiatos hope to reach an agreement on the basic elements in agriculture and industrial goods by October and possibly wind up all remaining issues by the end of the year. A deal on the Doha Round may still take months after legal intricacies are ironed out.

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