EU, Brazil up pressure on U.S. on Doha deadline

October 5, 2009

World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy speaks during a business meeting organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi September 4, 2009. Key trade ministers met on Thursday to work out how to turn political leaders' pledges to complete the Doha round trade talks by 2010 into reality. REUTERS/B Mathur (INDIA BUSINESS) By Darren Ennis
BRUSSELS, Oct 5 (Reuters) – The European Union and Brazil will increase pressure on the United States on Tuesday to set out its demands to conclude the “Doha” round of world trade talks in 2010, a draft document showed.

The draft communique, prepared for an EU-Brazil summit on Tuesday and obtained by Reuters, says the 2010 deadline “will be at risk” without swift progress, and it makes a thinly veiled call on Washington to state its position.

“Brazil and the EU believe that closure of the Doha Round in 2010 should take place on the basis of progress already made, including with regards to modalities, and therefore call on WTO Members to set out any specific demands they may have,” the draft says.

“The EU and Brazil underline that absent progress within this timeframe, the objective of closing the Round in 2010 will be at risk.”

G20 leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, renewed their promises at last month’s Pittsburgh summit to finalise the Doha round of trade liberalisation by no later than 2010.

But the EU, Brazil and other trading partners have become frustrated by Washington’s failure to outline its position which they say is needed if a breakthrough is to be made before the end of the year to facilitate meeting the 2010 deadline.

“Every time we ask the U.S. what it wants from us, they say they cannot tell us yet and that the new administration is not ready yet to move,” an EU diplomat told Reuters.

There are questions about how hard Obama, already facing fights in Congress on health care reform and climate change, is willing to push for a deal that many members of his own Democratic party could oppose.

“The message from the EU-Brazil summit clearly underlines the need for all WTO members, notably the U.S., to make clear what they want and how they see the process moving forward. It shows that the EU and Brazil are committed to get things moving now and not later,” the diplomat said.

Washington has said it needs to do one-on-one talks with big emerging countries like Brazil, India and China to get more clarity about what it would gain from a deal.

The EU and Brazil will also call for trade ministers to meet to discuss progress on Doha before a scheduled full WTO conference in Geneva in December, the draft showed.

After nearly eight years of negotiation, WTO members still have not reached agreement on core formulas, known in trade jargon as “modalities”, for cutting agricultural and industrial tariffs and reducing trade-distorting farm subsidies.

“We need to get an agreement on the modalities before the end of the year if we are to meet the 2010 deadline,” another EU trade diplomat said.

Reaching a deal on agriculture and manufacturing modalities would put WTO members most of the way to a final agreement. But U.S. farmers and manufacturers are unhappy with proposals now on the table and services trade negotiations have barely begun.

(Reporting by Darren Ennis; editing by Foo Yun Chee and Robin Pomeroy)
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