WTO Ag Negotiations Slow

WTO Ag Negotiations Slow

Walker says issues remain deadlocked.

The chairperson overseeing WTO agriculture negotiations says talks have produced no constructive, bridge-building solutions to the deadlocked issues before the Doha Round of trade talks.

"My own conclusion is that as yet I have not seen any solution to any of those outstanding issues having been presented through consultations," said New Zealand Ambassador David Walker. "Nor have I seen any clearly defined further option on those issues at the present time."

Walker is scheduled to submit reports to the Trade Negotiations Committee on April 21, the last working day before Easter, which was the goal set earlier this year to have major progress reached in the process.

Walker promised there would be no surprises from him.  He told members last week that the process is entirely bottom-up - input coming only from the members themselves - and his and some delegations' reports on their consultations indicated that the work they have been undertaking has not yet produced solutions.

"I am aware that people continue to work constructively on a number of those issues in order to identify possible options for bridge-building, problem solving solutions, but as I say none of that has visibly appeared, yet," Walker said.

WTO members will discuss the situation of the negotiations on all subjects on April 29, in an informal meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee, which oversees the Doha Round talks. After that, Ambassador Walker said he will consult the agriculture negotiating group on next steps, based on any guidance resulting from the April 29 meeting.

"I think we have done a lot of good work, and we continue to do a lot of good work," Walker said. "It seems to me that perhaps it's a little bit like some agricultural products: they germinate away under the ground and all of a sudden they spring forth, and if the weather is right they will bloom and grow. So I'm looking forward to that phase of our work as soon as it can be reached."

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