Senior trade officials from key member countries of the World Trade Organisation, including the US, the European Union, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, China and Egypt, are meeting today to set the tone for the larger mini-WTO meeting that is to take place over Thursday and Friday.
Since the New Delhi meeting is informal, involving around 37 countries rather than the entire WTO membership, it is not expected to enter into any hard negotiations. Rather, it will seek to build a consensus and draw up an agenda for the full WTO meeting in Geneva later this year.
At least 36 countries have circulated papers for the purpose of discussion in the meeting of senior officials that is scheduled alongside. The discussion paper circulated by India talks about setting up time frames for concluding talks not only in agriculture and non-agriculture market access or industrial goods (NAMA), but also in services.
In Washington, US trade representative Ron Kirk said the United States hopes a meeting of trade ministers this week in New Delhi will help push long-running world trade talks to a successful conclusion.
"I think this week's ministerial can be a very important step toward our goal of the successful conclusion of the Doha round,'' Kirk told reporters before leaving for the talks.
''I think we all share in the joint conviction and belief that completing the Doha round can be a key element to helping the world recover from this current economic crisis. The window between now and our ministerial of the WTO later this fall is a critical time for those of us committed to the success of Doha," Kirk said.