Associated France Press (AFP) 14/5/2006
More flexibility needed to break Doha round deadlock: EU’s Mandelson
MANILA (AFP) - Rich countries like the United States and the EU should offer more flexibility to break a deadlock on global trade negotiations before time ran out, according to the European Union’s trade chief.
"We must see a breakthrough, the sooner the better, because time is running out," Mandelson told reporters in Manila ahead of a meeting with his Southeast Asian counterparts.
"It requires more flexibility, more openness in everyone’s part, particularly, but not only, developed countries who are best placed to contribute more," he said Monday.
While developing countries need to share the burden, it was up to the EU and the US to "do even more in order to bring these talks to a balance and a successful conclusion," Mandelson said.
"If we don’t see it this year, then it will be hard to see when it will come in any year," Mandleson said, underscoring the need to break the deadlock and finally come to an agreement.
The 149-member World Trade Organization (WTO) is struggling to make progress on the so-called Doha round of trade liberalization.
Launched in 2001, the Doha round aims to boost world trade in an effort to increase development in poor countries. It was originally meant to end in 2004 but has stumbled because of persistent disputes between rich and poor countries over the concessions they should make.
Among the key stumbling blocks is the US government’s refusal to cut high levels of farm subsidies even as it pushes for greater access to agricultural markets around the world.
"To date, the United States has shown a preparedness to negotiate witout making any firm commitment to making a start," in reversing a 2002 farm bill that called for higher subsidies, Mandelson said.
"We are reaching a moment of truth when people no longer should hold their cards to their chest, but to make clear what they are prepared to do (and) how far they are prepared to go in order to bring success to everyone," he stressed.