Trade round hangs in balance as ministers wind up WTO talks
Geneva: The troubled global trade round is hanging in the balance as ministers and officials of the 153-member World Trade Organisation (WTO) gather in Geneva Wednesday for the final day of talks aimed at reviewing the WTO's work.
The WTO's 7th ministerial conference has been dominated by calls from ministers for the Geneva-based organisation's members to kick-start long-running negotiations on the trade round so as to meet next year's deadline for clinching a deal to liberalise world markets.
Spearheading the drive to reactivate the trade talks that were launched in Doha eight years ago has been developing nations concerned that the so-called Doha round could be delayed again or possibly even abandoned.
The protracted global talks have been hit by a series of missed deadlines as developing nations have called on advanced economies to open up their markets to products such as agricultural goods and developed countries have pressed the developing world to allow more foreign investment in their economies.
But underscoring the tough round of negotiations ahead if a deal is to be secured, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk called at the Geneva summit Tuesday for a "meaningful market opening" particularly in the world's fast-growing emerging economies, such as China, Brazil and India.
The Geneva-based WTO's ministerial conference is being held against the backdrop of signs that a recovery in global trade from its biggest contraction since the Great Depression is helping the world economy to put the recession behind it.
As a result, the latest summit will also include discussion on the WTO's contribution to the global recovery from recession.
In addition, several nations, including Russia, Iran and Iraq, could set again their ambitions for joining the WTO in the runup to the close of the meeting Wednesday.