Critical Week For Restart Of World Trade Talks

By John S. McClenahen By the end of this week, the Doha Round of world trade talks, effectively halted at a discordant meeting of trade ministers in Mexico City last fall, could be given a new start. The occasion is a meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which begins today, May 12, in Paris. "We have a narrow window of opportunity in the next two to three months to advance the Doha negotiations and ensure that 2004 is not a lost year" for the World Trade Organization, says U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick. The nominal deadline for completing the Doha Round, named after Doha, Qatar, where the talks were launched in November 2001, is Jan. 1, 2005. The European Union, now with 25 members, said on May 10 that it was now prepared to accept the setting of a date for all countries to end agricultural export subsidies. That could make progress toward restarting negotiations more likely at the OECD meeting in Paris, since agricultural issues have been a major reason for the recent impasse.

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