(Reuters) - G8 leaders plus Brazil, India, China, Mexico and South Africa will agree at a summit on Thursday to conclude the Doha round of world trade talks successfully in 2010, according to a draft communique seen by Reuters.
“Leaders commit to reaching an ambitious and balanced conclusion to the Doha round in 2010, consistent with its mandate, building on progress already made on modalities,” the draft prepared for Thursday’s meeting of the so-called “G8 plus G5” said.
The Doha talks have been effectively on ice since a meeting of ministers last July failed to clinch an outline agreement, although Lamy said it had completed 80 percent of a deal.
A separate draft statement to be issued by the Group of Eight industrialized nations — the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and Canada — on Wednesday will commit to concluding the talks as soon as possible.
But it stops short of setting a date for reaching a deal to boost dwindling trade suffering from the worst economic slump since World War Two.
“This is merely technical. The G8 statement will feed into the G8 plus G5 statement the next day,” a G8 source involved in preparing the summit in the Italian town of L’Aquila told Reuters.
“The G8 alone cannot achieve Doha, they need the agreement of the G5 to have any realistic chance of success and this is why the second day’s statement is so important.”
The Doha round was launched in late 2001 to help poor countries prosper through trade, but in the nearly eight years since then the talks have stumbled repeatedly as trading powers clashed over proposals to cut tariffs and subsidies on goods from food to chemicals.
But WTO chief Pascal Lamy said last month that a deal could be clinched in 2010 because the mood of the negotiations had improved since the appointment this year of U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and India trade minister Anand Sharma whose countries are seen as key to unlocking a deal.
Trade ministers meeting on the sidelines of the OECD in June had also hoped the G8 and their G5 partners would agree a detailed timeline for concluding the talks which could be taken to September’s larger and more influential meeting of the Group of G20 industrialized and developing countries in Pittsburgh.
“We instruct relevant ministers to meet before the G20 in Pittsburgh,” the draft said, adding the technical work should start quickly at the WTO in Geneva.
India has already indicated it is willing to host the long-awaited “mini-ministerial” at the beginning of September.
Reporting by Reuters bureaux