NEW YORK — Top government officials from the U.S. and Brazil said on Wednesday that they remain committed to reopening the stalled World Trade Organization-sponsored Doha talks.

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab and Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, who also heads the G20 group of developing nations, convened at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel here to discuss the status of the Doha Development Round and bilateral trade issues.

“On both sides, we think it’s doable,” Amorim said at a news conference. “There is a lot of hard bargaining ahead, for sure, I confirmed that today. Of course, we are not here today to negotiate or to look for a specific breakthrough.”

The Doha talks aim to increase global commerce and lift the poorest nations out of poverty by helping them expand their exports, while wealthy nations would gain increased access to poorer countries’ goods and services, cutting costs for retailers as well as making it easier for them to open stores abroad.

Launched in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001, the global trade talks were suspended after a July meeting in Geneva when trading powers — the U.S., European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil and India — failed to agree on lowering subsidies and tariffs in agricultural trade. Schwab went to Rio de Janeiro in September to continue talks with Amorim.

“We approached the meetings in a problem-solving, not a finger-pointing, manner,” Schwab said. “We all know there is really tough bargaining ahead. The key lies in lots of quiet conversations going forward.”

President Bush’s Trade Promotion Authority, which strips lawmakers of their ability to amend trade legislation, expires June 30, and without an extension, a deal on Doha could be tough to push through the new Democrat-controlled Congress.

“It’s the content, not the calendar, that needs to dictate the outcome,” Schwab added. “We are now in a period where we hope to see a step up in pace.”

This story first appeared in the January 4, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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