Trade ministers from nearly 30 World Trade Organization (WTO) members ended discussions here Saturday on the stalled Doha Round talks, without making substantial progress.
The ministers "clearly expressed a renewed commitment to put the Doha Round on track and to achieve abroad-based deal," said a statement issued after the three-hour discussions.
They also "expressed a strong wish for a quick resumption of full-scale activity in Geneva and discussed the prerequisites for taking advantage of the window of opportunity for making substantial progress."
But clearly there was no breakthrough on the sharp differences over agriculture that stalled the talks.
Participants of the gathering, which was held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting, included US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, the European Union (EU)'s Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim.
The four are considered to be the key players in the talks, representing both developed and developing members of the Geneva-based WTO.
The fate of the Doha Round hangs on the four WTO members bridging their differences on agriculture and industrial trade, which means the US must offer further reduction on domestic farm subsidies, the EU promise more agricultural tariff cuts while India and Brazil pledge more market access for industrial goods.
The five-year negotiations, aimed at helping poor countries develop through fairer trade conditions, were suspended by WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy last July, after so-called last-ditch negotiations among key WTO members, which also include Australia and Japan, collapsed in Geneva.
Although the technical work of the talks resumed in Geneva last November and informal contacts among WTO members have continued, there is still no clear sign that a breakthrough can be made, especially on agricultural issues.
(Xinhua News Agency January 28, 2007)