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WTO DIRECTOR WARNS OF ?GRIDLOCK? IN DOHA ROUND AGENDA

WTO DIRECTOR WARNS OF ôGRIDLOCKö IN DOHA ROUND AGENDA

   Supachai Panitchpakdi, director general of the World Trade Organization, has told the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris that, although “governments remain committed to finishing the Doha Round of negotiations by the agreed deadline of Jan. 1, 2005 … the problem of negative linkages is still very much with us.”

   “I warned some time ago that the round was facing imminent gridlock unless focused political energy was applied to advert it. My warning still stands,” Panitchpakdi said.

   “Avoiding the worst is no substitute for real progress toward success. Furthermore, we cannot pretend that the setbacks so far have been cost-free,” he said.

   Panitchpakdi said the WTO-sponsored Fifth Ministerial Conference, Sept. 10-14 in Cancun, Mexico, should “provide guidance for the remainder of the negotiations as envisaged in the Doha Declaration. We should be working towards a sort of ‘road map’ to focus efforts that will be needed in the final year.”

   The OECD is a think-tank comprising representatives from developed nations.

   Panitchpakdi asked OECD members “to make sure that your instructions to your negotiators in specific areas are consistent with your commitment … this, I must say frankly, does not always appear to be the case,” Panitchpakdi noted.

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