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Last Updated : May 14, 2011 10:13 AM IST | Source: Reuters

'Not clear' how to end Doha impasse: EU

The world's main trading nations remain divided over a global trade deal despite a compromise plan put forward by the European Union to rescue the stalled Doha trade round, the EU's trade chief said on Friday.


The world's main trading nations remain divided over a global trade deal despite a compromise plan put forward by the European Union to rescue the stalled Doha trade round, the EU's trade chief said on Friday.


EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said it was not clear how trading powers could resolve differences over the key sticking point -- how to open up trade in industrial goods.


Senior negotiators from the United States, EU, Brazil, India, China, Australia and Japan who met at the World Trade Organization on Wednesday to discuss the EU's plan moved no closer to agreement, he said.


Also see: Doha talks deadlock puts a price on free trade


"I'm not prepared to risk losing the gains for the economy, for development and for the rules-based system without a serious attempt to identify a viable compromise," De Gucht told reporters after a meeting of EU trade ministers in Brussels. "But I have to concede that at present the gaps between the main players remain large and it is not clear how the market access negotiations can proceed."


The EU would nevertheless continue pressing for a solution, he said. Brussels floated its plan last month, widely seen as a last-ditch effort to rescue an accord intended to boost world trade and lift millions out of poverty.


The plan aims to tackle one of the biggest sticking points to the negotiations -- industrial tariffs -- to help bridge the divide between rich countries and major developing nations such as India and China.


Indian negotiator Rajeev Kher this week rejected the plan as unacceptable.


Reactions from the United States and China were no more encouraging, EU sources said, yet no one is yet willing officially to admit defeat. "We will have to see in the coming days and coming weeks where this is leading us to," De Gucht said.


The Doha round -- named after the Qatari capital where talks were launched in 2001 -- will be discussed by senior officials at a summit of Pacific rim countries in Montana next week, as well as at G20 and G8 summits of big economies in France at the end of the month and at the WTO, he said.

The EU trade ministers meeting in Brussels said they supported the EU Commission's attempts to forge a compromise.

First Published on May 14, 2011 09:13 am
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