Is there a future for Doha?
While acknowledging that the end of year deadline to conclude the talks is extremely tight, Mexican Ambassador de Mateo was somewhat optimistic that a conclusion this year would be possible.
“The schedule at the moment would see a text prepared before Easter, followed by the necessary legal work and scheduling of commitments,” de Mateo explained. “It’s an ambitious schedule, but no one is going to say the deal is dead.”
Other officials were less optimistic. One negotiator told EI that while he has to remain positive, he would not be willing to bet any money on a deal being reached this year.
While the Doha Round has missed a number of deadlines in the past, officials EI spoke with say this time the WTO’s credibility is on the line.
“If we miss this deadline, I’m not sure what future if any there is for the WTO,” one negotiator confided.
In fact, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy has become increasingly blunt in his appeals to member countries.
“I must issue a serious warning that a major acceleration at all levels…is needed in order to make [a deal] possible,” Lamy told WTO members in an address to the General Council on Feb. 22. “Furthermore, the output of all these processes needs to urgently move up a level, to real progress on key issues of substance.”