US wants push to revive Doha trade talks

GENEVA - The United States wants officials to resume international trade talks in September after a meeting of ministers collapsed without a breakthrough last month, U.S. trade chief Susan Schwab was quoted as saying.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Thu 21 Aug 2008, 6:18 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:55 AM

She said in an interview with specialist newsletter Inside U.S. Trade on Wednesday that senior officials from a small group of countries should meet next month to explore the possibility of restarting the Doha round negotiations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

"We need to come to the table in September at the senior official level to test the seriousness of going forward, to bring forward new ideas to overcome some of the problems that we encountered in July that we were not able to overcome at that time, and quite frankly to stop the deterioriation and the erosion of what was on the table in July," Schwab said.

Schwab was speaking ahead of a visit to Washington on Thursday and Friday by WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, who also visited India last week.

Schwab's comments, reported in the newsletter's online edition, reinforce those made by several countries, notably Brazil. World Bank President Robert Zoellick has also backed the suggestion that WTO members should resume the talks soon to capitalise on the momentum gained last month.

That meeting saw progress on the headline areas of agricultural and industrial tariffs and subsidies.

Stumbling block

But it ultimately foundered on differences between the United States and India over a proposed safeguard to protect farmers in developing countries from a surge in imports.

Zoellick and others have sketched out compromises over the safeguard that would reconcile the needs of developing countries to protect their subsistence farmers from floods of imports with those of food exporters -- rich and poor -- who fear such measures could be used to block normal trade.

Inside U.S. Trade said Schwab had expressed the hope that senior officials in September could "clear the way, conceivably, for another round of ministerial engagement".

But Schwab also highlighted U.S. concerns about the wording of a report on the industrial goods negotiations, and warned that a compromise floated by Lamy in the talks "has unravelled in large measure", the newsletter said.

The United States says that the report's summary of discussions on proposals to open up individual industrial sectors like textiles or chemicals uses language that Washington never agreed to, reducing pressure on big emerging countries like China and India to take part in such sectoral deals.

U.S. business lobbies argue that such deals -- provided countries like China take part -- offer the best hopes of increased markets for U.S. exporters from a Doha deal.

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