Education International
Education International

Doha Talks re-launched

published 28 February 2007 updated 28 February 2007

After being put on hold for nearly six months, controversial talks aimed at creating new trade rules for the global economy have been formally re-launched.

Pascal Lamy, head of the World Trade Organization, announced at the end of January that the so-called Doha round of talks is now “in full negotiating mode.”

“Be prepared for the intensification of the work in the negotiating groups in the weeks to come at the initiative of the chairs," Lamy told delegations at an informal meeting at WTO headquarters in Geneva. “Be also prepared to engage constructively in this phase with full convictions that this deal is doable.”

The re-launch of talks comes after a “mini-ministerial” meeting in the Swiss resort town of Davos where more than two dozen WTO members called for the “quick resumption of full-scale activity” in the various negotiating groups in Geneva, including talks aimed at liberalizing the trade of services under the GATS.

In a statement released at the end to the mini-ministerial meeting, Swiss Economics Minister Doris Leuthard said all ministers agreed that formal GATS negotiations should take place as soon as possible.

WTO members held informal talks in Geneva on services throughout the last week of January, talks which included bilateral negotiations in areas such as financial services, telecommunications, transportation and education services among others.

Some key WTO members are pressing countries to begin preparing revised GATS offers. Representatives from Australia, Canada, the European Union and the United States told an informal services negotiating meeting on February 2nd that members should be prepared to deliver new offers on short notice if there is a breakthrough in talks on agriculture and non-agricultural trade.

However, delegations have not yet specified a timetable for the submission of new offers. Members were supposed to submit revised offers on services at the end of July, but that deadline was lifted after the Doha talks were suspended.

The next round of services talks will take place in Geneva from February 26th to March 2nd.