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Doha talks brought back from deadlock
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While the ministerial negotiations of World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha round talks were on the brink of collapse, Director-General Pascal Lamy put a proposal on the table Friday revitalizing the deadlock.

Though the ministers attending the talks have not yet reached final agreement on the proposal, they agreed that it could be a basis for compromise.

"What's on the table is not perfect, it's not beautiful but it's finally put together what will be a genuine boost for the world economy and particularly good for developing countries," European Union trade chief Peter Mandelson said.

"There is an emerging deal but not a done deal," Mandelson said.

According to the proposal, the talks would be restricted to seven key countries to crack open the toughest issues, ranging from caps on farm subsidies to limits on special treatment for developing countries.

One of the key elements in the proposal was a cut in U.S. farm support to 14.5 billion U.S. dollars, improving on Tuesday's U.S. offer of 15 billion dollars -- one third of the current ceiling but double current outlays which have fallen as food prices soared.

In goods trade, Lamy's offer also contains concessions for both rich and poor countries. It gives developing countries a choice for industrial tariff caps from 20 percent to 25 percent. The steeper the cuts developing countries chose, the more loopholes they receive to protect strategic industries such as automobiles.

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said after a meeting of more than 30 countries that many issues remained to be resolved if the WTO were to reach a framework deal slashing farm subsidies and cutting agricultural and industrial tariffs around the world.

WTO spokesperson said that Lamy's proposal did not satisfy every WTO member, but no one has rejected it.

On Saturday negotiators will also look at the prospects of liberalizing services such as banking and telecom, which will color the outcome of the core farming and industry talks that are the focus of the current talks.

According to the agenda of the ministerial talks, the ministers will continue their negotiations on Lamy's proposal in the coming three days. The results of their negotiations are scheduled to be released in the WTO plenary session on Wednesday.

(Xinhua News Agency July 26, 2008)

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