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WTO meet may give push to stalled Doha talks

NEW DELHI: Trade ministers of key WTO member countries, including India and the US, will meet here tomorrow to review and give a push to the stalled Doha talks for a global trade opening deal.

The meeting, convened by Switzerland, will take place on the sidelines of the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting.

According to Indian officials, the meeting would discuss the progress of Doha talks and “see what the members can achieve what G-20 has mandated’’.

The WTO Director-General, Mr Pascal Lamy, would participate in the deliberations. European Union (EU), Brazil and Australia will also attend the meeting.

At the last meeting of the G-20 in Seoul in November, leaders of the world’s most influential countries, including the US and the EU, Brazil and India, had pressed for concluding the WTO talks for a multilateral agreement in 2011.

“Our strong commitment to directing our negotiators to engage in across-the-board negotiations to promptly bring the Doha Development Round to a successful, comprehensive and balanced conclusion...

“We recognise that 2011 is a critical window of opportunity, albeit narrow, and that engagement among our representatives must intensify and expand,” the G-20 leaders had said.

Doha round of talks under the aegis of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) started in the Qatari capital in 2001 for achieving a global trade deal, but a breakthrough has not been reached upon yet.

Differences between rich and developing nations have been a stumbling block. India and other developing nations have been defending their agricultural market to protect millions of subsistence farmers from easy imports that may result from the multilater al agreement.

The US and the other developed countries, however, seek more market access in developing nations, including India.

As per the WTO estimate, successful conclusion of Doha talks could boost the global trade by up to $200 billion in a year. PTI

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