Lamy Takes Up 'Shuttle Diplomacy' in Wake of WTO Collapse

14 July 2006

After the WTO had failed to reach a framework deal on agriculture and industrial tariffs at a high-profile ministerial-level meeting in Geneva at the end of June, Members have asked Lamy to step up consultations with governments in an attempt to facilitate an agreement as soon as possible (see Bridges Weekly, 3 July 2006). Lamy believes that a ‘modalities’ agreement — formulae and figures to determine the extent of reductions and exceptions to them — would require parallel concessions on a ‘triangle’ of issues: the US would have to agree to make deeper cuts to domestic farm support, the EU to increased agricultural market access, and developing countries such as Brazil and India to offer more on industrial tariffs. Following the start of his ’shuttle diplomacy’ in Tokyo, Lamy said on 6 July that he was "encouraged by the commitment to the round" that he had seen from top Japanese officials, though his new role as "confidante to Member governments" prevented him from responding to questions about the evolution of any country’s positions. He said that he would continue his consultations with other major trading nations, during which he would "try to test with them different hypotheses and different numbers" in an attempt to discern their "red lines".

At the same time, several trade diplomats are looking to the 15-17 July G8 summit in St. Petersburg for major trading nations to come up with a way out of the deadlock. The leaders of Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and South Africa — all members of the G-20 group of developing countries at the WTO which has been pushing for further liberalisation in agriculture trade — will also be in St. Petersburg, thus bringing together several of the key players in the Doha Round talks. Sources report that Lamy, too, will be present.

ICTSD reporting; "Lamy says WTO in ‘red zone,’ seeks urgent action to save process," KYODO NEWS, 6 July 2006; "Developed countries must take initiative to push WTO talks," TIMES OF INDIA, 12 July 2006; "Brazil’s Lula to promote Doha trade talks during G8 summit," FT, 12 July 2006; "Doha round: It’s not only what we trade, but how," IHT, 5 July 2006; "G8 may hold key to WTO deal," REUTERS, 7 July 2006.

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