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G8, G5 leaders to agree to finish Doha talks next year
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Leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) and Group of Five (G5) are expected to agree at their summit to conclude the eight-year Doha round of trade talks next year, according to a draft communique obtained by Xinhua.

"Leaders commit to reaching an ambitious and balanced conclusion to the Doha round in 2010, consistent with its mandate, building on progress already made on modalities," said the draft for Thursday's meeting of the G8 plus G5.

The G8 nations are Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States, while the G5 includes China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

But the draft did not mention a specific date to conclude the talks, which were initiated in 2001 in Qatar to boost development in poor countries through trade and have run into a deadlock over tariffs and subsidies since a meeting of ministers last July failed to reach an outline agreement.

World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy said in June that a deal could be forged next year as the mood of the negotiations had improved since the appointment this year of Ron Kirk as U.S. trade representative and Anand Sharma as Indian trade minister.

India has already expressed its willingness to host a mini-ministerial at the beginning of September, while Kirk also urged partners to find a way out of the impasse.

The two countries are crucial to push the process forward as they were in the center of the dispute over agricultural tariffs and subsidies.

Kirk called in May for "changes to the process" of the Doha Round global trade talks so that a "balanced and ambitious" deal could be reached quickly among WTO members.

"We should all be willing to consider changes to the process that would put the negotiations on a more direct path to success," Kirk said following separate discussions in Geneva with Lamy and a number of WTO ambassadors.

The Obama administration was pushing for giving up negotiations on so-called "modalities" -- the ways or methods for cutting tariffs and subsidies -- and going directly to bargaining on the levels and scopes of tariffs and subsidy reductions on a bilateral basis.

But this was opposed by emerging nations, which have insisted negotiating modalities and the achievement of the 80 percent of a deal should be valued.

(Xinhua News Agency July 8, 2009)

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