Countries locked in long-running trade talks do not want the so-called Doha round to fail but may not have the political will to agree on how to cut industrial tariffs, the World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Thursday.
“What members have told me so far is that nobody wants the death of Doha,” WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy told a business audience in the Norwegian capital.
Last month, Lamy warned that an “unbridgeable” gap in the negotiations on manufactured goods could doom the 10-year-old trade round, triggering a last ditch plan by the European Union to restart the stalled talks.
Lamy said it was surprising that WTO member states had come to a stand-off over industrial tariff cuts, since exactly those kinds of reductions have driven global trade since the 1950s.
“If this (the question of industrial tariffs) is resolved, then the rest that has to be done (to complete Doha) … could come forward abruptly. But is there political will there — that’s an open question,” asked Lamy.
Norway’s Trade and Industry Minister Trond Giske, also present, said that the optimism from late last year about reaching the Doha trade agreement in 2011 has been premature.
“We have to wait still for the beginning of the end of the Doha round,” Giske said.
(Reporting by Wojciech Moskwa)