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WTO Chief Pushes Relaunch of Trade Negotiations

Talk to Africa, Caribbean, Pacific parliament group - called the ACP - explores benefits of Doha round of negotiations to lesser developed countries.

Pascal Lamy is on the stump pushing the value of a trade agreement. The Director-General of the World Trade Organization spoke to a joint parliamentary session of the Africa, Caribbean, Pacific countries and the European Union today. In the talk, Lamy explored some of the key points important to ACP including trade for the lesser-developed countries.

In his talk, Lamy points out the value of a new trade agreement that will be more aggressive for LDCs than the current arrangement. When talking about agriculture Lamy notes that before suspension of the Doha round of negotiations in July, developed countries had already promised to eliminate all forms of export subsidies by 2013. He adds that this proposal included "the parallel elimination of other, slightly less direct, export subsidizing practices," he says.

Lamy adds that the proposals already agreed to in negotiations give developing countries the potential to "protect sensitive sectors and adjust their pace of trade opening." And he notes that cotton was also on the agenda for negotiators. "In fact, total duty-free-quota-free entry for the cotton exports of LDCs into developed country markets had already been promised.

Lamy notes that ambassadors have already agreed to restart talks in Geneva, but "we all know that moving from here to fully fledged ministerial negotiations will require serious thinking and compromises. I ask for your support in relaunching these negotiations in full gear," he says.

Developing countries have taken a stronger position in WTO talks in the recent past and getting them on board to restart the Doha round talks is critical to an agreement. While there's been more diplomatic "chatter" this week regarding talks, how long the process may take to get to any agreement remains to be seen. For U.S. negotiators, a new Democratic Congress for 2007 poses added problems with the expiration of Trade Promotion Authority in July.

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