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WTO talks unlikely to move ahead as deadlock continues

World Trade Organization (WTO) director general Pascal Lamy’s meeting with US trade representative Susan Schwab last week on restarting multilateral trade negotiations appears to have yielded no positive result.

, ET Bureau|
Aug 26, 2008, 12.47 AM IST
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New Delhi: World Trade Organization (WTO) director general Pascal Lamy���s meeting with US trade representative Susan Schwab last week on restarting multilateral trade negotiations appears to have yielded no positive result.

There are reports the USTR has supported the idea of a meeting of senior officials and not a ministerial, but India is still waiting for a final word from Mr Lamy. The WTO chief, who had promised commerce & industry minister Kamal Nath he would call him after the meeting to inform whether a ministerial was possible next month, has not called so far.

���Since Mr Lamy met Ms Schwab on Thursday and Friday, he had said that he would have an idea about how things stood by Saturday (August 23). However, we have not got a call yet and do not know whether a mini-ministerial meeting is still being planned next month,��� a commerce ministry official.

A mini-ministerial meet of about 30 trade ministers from key WTO countries had broken down in Geneva last month. Differences between India and the US on measures to protect poor farmers against import surge was seen as the primary reason for the failure. Other issues like the levels of cuts which the US will bring about in its cotton subsidies were also unresolved. The on-going Doha round of trade talks began in November 2001.

Mr Lamy visited New Delhi earlier this month to find out whether India was interested in another mini-ministerial in September. Since members were pretty close to a deal in agriculture and Nama (industrial goods) in the July meeting, he wanted to make a final attempt at reaching some kind of an agreement before the US presidential elections in October.
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