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Agriculture crucial for Doha talks- Azevedo
May 19, 2013, 5:09 am

The Doha Trade talks have been stalled for years due to differences on trade barriers, agricultural subsidies.

The Doha Trade talks have been stalled for years due to differences on trade barriers, agricultural subsidies [Getty Images]

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) director general elect, Brazilian diplomat Roberto Azevedo, said Friday that agriculture still lies at the heart of the WTO Doha trade talks.

“It is politically impossible to contemplate other areas and leave agriculture out. Industrial goods, services and agriculture were in the core of the Doha Round in 2008 and will continue to be once it is resumed. There is no way to take any of the three from the board,” said Azevedo.

He said his greatest challenge after assuming office would be to make the Doha Development Round move forward.

Negotiations for the Doha Round have been suspended for years due to differences on issues such as trade barriers and agricultural subsidies.

Azevedo said at a press conference in Brazil’s foreign ministry in Brasilia, the federal capital of Brazil, that the dilemma will have to be addressed once negotiations are resumed.

The diplomat admitted that the current scenario is not favorable to the fall of trade barriers because of the adverse effects of the 2008 financial crisis.

“Some 20 per cent of the protectionist measures introduced since 2008 have been lifted, which means that 80 per cent are still active,” Azevedo said, stressing the importance of resuming negotiations to the world trade club.

He expressed optimism over the next WTO Ministerial Conference to be held in December in Bali, Indonesia, where matters such as agriculture, tariffs, food security and subsidies will be discussed.

“The negotiations are not advancing the way we expect. There is some pessimism in Geneva. I hope we can revert that to have a consensus by December. I have not given up on Bali yet,” said Azevedo.

Azevedo, who served as Brazil’s ambassador to the WTO since 2008, will take office as the next director general in September.

Azevedo beat Mexico’s Herminio Blanco, widely seen as the favored choice of the United States in the race for the top spot.

Source: Agencies

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