WTO talks stuck again as ministers prepare to meet, Azevedo says

Thu Nov 26, 2015 10:56am EST
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By Tom Miles

GENEVA (Reuters) - World trade talks are deadlocked and ministers are unlikely to find a way out of the impasse when they meet in Nairobi next month, World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevedo said on Thursday.

"We clearly are stuck in the negotiations at this point in time," Azevedo told a news conference. "I think it will be very difficult to reconcile the views. I would say impossible at this point in time."

The Geneva-based WTO has been trying and failing to agree on a worldwide package of trade reforms since a meeting in Doha in 2001 hatched an ambitious plan for knocking down trade barriers.

Since then the WTO has still managed to agree a few changes to the global trading rules.

Two years ago it agreed to standardize and streamline customs procedures, and Nairobi could still see agreements on other issues, such as an end to tariffs on $1.3 trillion of IT exports.

Brazil and the European Union are also leading a push to end agricultural export subsidies at Nairobi.

But differences over completing the so-called Doha round have never ceased and the WTO's 10th ministerial conference, which opens in Nairobi on Dec. 15, is not about to produce a common view on how to take the talks forward.

"I think that's very unlikely to happen," Azevedo said.   Continued...

World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo gestures during a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, November 26, 2015.  REUTERS/Denis Balibouse