World powers to meet on trade talks


Top negotiators from the world's largest trading powers will meet next week to push for a global trade accord, a signal that political momentum may be building for completion of the stalled talks.

European Commission spokesman John Clancy said today that the meeting, the first at such a high level since talks at the World Trade Organization broke down in 2008, would take place on January 28th during a conference in Switzerland.

"EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht has invited trade ministers from Australia, Brazil, China, India, Japan and the United States to meet informally on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos to discuss the way ahead for the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) talks," Mr Clancy said.

WTO chief Pascal Lamy has said 2011 presents a political opportunity to seal a deal. Yet with tensions over trade and currency persisting among powers such as the United States and China, a successful outcome of the meeting is uncertain.

"It is important to underline that whilst 2011 does present a real opportunity to conclude negotiations, this meeting is just a first step in exploring the way forward and without prejudice to the format of any future meetings," Mr Clancy said.

The Doha round of trade talks was launched in 2001 to help poor countries prosper through trade, but in the nearly 10 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.