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WTO Agrees on Resumption of Doha Talks
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After a six-month-stalemate on agricultural issues all 150 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed on Wednesday to fully resume the Doha Round of global trade talks.

The development came at an informal meeting of WTO ambassadors in Geneva and it followed a mini-ministerial meeting in the Swiss resort of Davos four days ago that gave new impetus to the stalled talks.

All ambassadors at Wednesday's meeting indicated that they backed a full-scale resumption of the talks and would try to reach a deal in the next few months, WTO sources said.

"The political conditions are more favorable for the conclusion of the Round than they have been for a long time," WTO Director-General, Pascal Lamy, told the meeting in a speech. He added negotiators should restart work, "With full convictions that this deal is do-able."

The Doha Round was launched in 2001 with the aim of alleviating poverty through fairer trade conditions. But the negotiations stalled due to sharp differences among major WTO members on agriculture trade and industrial market access.

Lamy had to suspend the talks last July after negotiations among six major players - the US, EU, Australia, Japan, India and Brazil - collapsed in Geneva.

After six months of quiet informal consultations, mainly in bilateral form, some 30 WTO trade ministers gathered in Davos on Saturday to discuss the possibility of breaking the Doha deadlock. But major differences still remain although ministers pledged to quickly resume the talks in Geneva.

Lamy has said that to break the deadlock the US needs to offer more on cutting domestic farm subsidies, the EU offer further reduction in agriculture tariffs and major developing nations such as Brazil and India allow more market access for service and industrial products.

WTO members now have only a few months to reach a breakthrough as the US government's special authority for negotiating trade deals expires at the end of June.

US Trade Representative, Susan Schwab, has indicated that the Congress would not renew that authority unless WTO members made substantial progress in the Doha Round.

(Xinhua News Agency February 1, 2007)

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