EU Trade Commissioner Says Clock is Ticking on Doha

Peter Mandelson says the Doha trade talks need to get down to specifics.

The next two months are critical for the Doha trade talks according to European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson.

Negotiations have started again based on recommendations by the chairs of the negotiation groups, which has survived the first round of discussions. Mandelson, addressing the European Parliament's International Trade Committee said negotiators must now get down to specifics and accept the recommendations as their basis for negotiating. He said what is being asked of all the negotiators is reasonable and attainable.

"The reality of these talks is that the distance to the finishing line, in economic terms, is fairly short now. Certainly very short compared to the road that has been traveled so far," Mandelson told the committee. "The cost of remaining concessions that both developed and some, more competitive developing countries need to bring into the final package is small compared to the systemic gain of doing the deal – especially as global economic conditions are becoming more uncertain."

If no agreement is reached this fall on the modalities, Mandelson says there is little hope for an early conclusion to the trade deal. With the U.S. Presidential race already underway and picking up speed, Mandelson says the talks will go into an indefinite deep freeze.

"For the round to succeed now, all parties need to show flexibility and willingness to compromise," Mandelson said. "We will continue to reach out to the various constituencies of the WTO membership and their key members to ensure their constructive engagement. But everyone has to be part of the heavy lifting."

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