WTO Talks Reconvene this Week

In Geneva, Switzerland, starting Jan. 23, negotiators open a weeklong session -- the first of four planned before the end of April. Compiled by staff

Published on: Jan 23, 2006

Trade negotiators head to Geneva, Switzerland this week to open a weeklong session on farm trade talks. It is the first official talks since December's Hong Kong ministerial meeting that brought little progress for trade ministers.

This week is the first of four planned before the end of April. In addition to the January dates, Feb. 13-17, March 20-24 and April 18-21 have been scheduled as weeks for negotiations. 

The ministerial has set April 30 as the deadline countries will agree to a detailed blueprint for negotiating agriculture and industrial market access in the Doha round. A July deadline was also set for completing schedules of commitments in the Doha Round, which would be dependent on negotiators meeting their modalities deadline.

Negotiations have lost momentum without a substantial proposal since the United States' proposal. A statement from National Corn Growers Association Chairman Leon Corzine pointed to the European Union in stalling negotiations.

"The European Union has become the primary obstacle to true market access and their refusal to move on the issue has become apparent to everyone," Corzine says. "Failure by the EU to negotiate in good faith is causing harm to the WTO. As a result all the members suffer especially the least developed and developing countries. We are not talking about agriculture alone but all sectors of the U.S .and world economies. We must move the process forward now."

Meanwhile, trade ministers from more than 20 countries will hold a ministerial meeting Jan. 27–28 in Davos, Switzerland, during the World Economic Forum conference, where discussions will focus on approaches to advance the Doha Round negotiations.

The G6 ministers (U.S., EU, Brazil, India, Australia and Japan) will then meet on Jan. 29 where it is expected that the meeting will focus more on process and not as much on contentious issues.