WASHINGTON — In advance of a trade ministers meeting in New Delhi later this week, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk reiterated the administration’s commitment to a successful completion of the stalled Doha Round of trade talks and indicated he was hopeful progress was possible.
Kirk travels to India this week for a meeting of trade ministers to work on moving the Doha Round forward.Speaking on a conference call, he said, “I take very seriously my President’s direction to be engaged at a very high level, at a direct level, and to do so with the express goal of moving us toward a successful conclusion.”
The Doha Round, aimed at lowering or eliminating global tariffs and other trade barriers, was launched in 2001. But negotiations have been mired for years in a complex range of issues, including the insistence of Brazil and African countries that the U.S. reduce subsidies to the cotton industry. The cotton issue may still be a factor in negotiations in the wake of a World Trade Organization arbitration panel announcement on Monday allowing Brazil to proceed with punitive sanctions against U.S. goods and services for failing to end the cotton subsidy programs.
Earlier failures of the Doha talks were also hinged on Western countries’ insistence that developing nations such as China and India open their markets further. In the call on Tuesday, Kirk said he had not received any specific assurances from India’s trade minister, Anand Sharma, about the removal of impediments to moving forward with Doha negotiations.
In July following the G-8 summit in L’Acqua, Italy, President Obama and other world leaders pledged to complete the Doha Round of world trade negotiations by 2010.
Kirk said he expected Obama to “have more to say about the role that trade will play in our overall economic recovery” leading up to the G-20 summit scheduled for late September in Pittsburgh, Pa. Obama is widely expected to deliver a major address further outlining his trade policy, but a spokeswoman for the U.S. trade representative clarified Kirk was not referring to any major speech in his comments.
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