G-8 summit : Leaders hopeful to wrap Doha round by year end

Kuehlungsborn, June 9:

Leaders of the Group of Eight are hopeful that the stalled Doha round of global trade talks could be wrapped up by the end of the year, according to the United States delegation and a final communique.

A White House statement on the final day said that G-8 had called on members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to show flexibility to resume the talks and find common ground.

“The G-8 called on all WTO members to demonstrate the flexibility needed to conclude the negotiations by the end of 2007 and reiterated the importance of trade capacity building in helping developing countries best take advantage of new opportunities resulting from trade liberalisation,” reads the statement.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the Doha talks were a major issue during the final day of the summit.

“We had a significant discussion over lunch, and I don’t think it is dead,” he said, “The sides are quite close now.” The Doha talks have been nearly dormant since last year while nations have argued over industrial and agriculture tariffs and farm subsidies.

Trade officials say they need agreement on the framework of a deal by the end of July to set aside enough time for the technical work needed to salvage a deal by December. Failure over the next seven weeks could set the whole process back until 2010, as subsidy and tariff concessions are generally seen as unlikely in 2008, when U.S. elections will be held, and 2009, when Indian elections are scheduled.

A new offer on manufactured goods Friday at the Geneva-based WTO underscored how little progress has been made in that negotiation over the last 12 months.