The Doha round of World Trade Organization (WTO) talks could come to a deal by the end of 2011, the European Union’s designated trade commissioner said on Tuesday, stressing that he was “confident” of a good outcome.
Last July, at the Group of Eight summit in L’Aquila, Italy, the world’s richest nations said they wanted the Doha round, which opened in 2001 in a bid to liberalise world trade and help poor nations develop, to reach a deal in 2010.
“I personally am confident that we are going to conclude the Doha round. I don’t know if it will be in 2010 or 2011,” Karel De Gucht told the European Parliament’s trade committee during his confirmation hearing.
“We agree on 90 per cent of the topics in Doha ... We are not going to tackle all the problems (of world trade) in the Doha round, there is still time afterwards,” he stressed.
Talks on trade liberalisation have stalled in recent years amidst a bitter row between the United States, China and India on agricultural subsidies.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive, negotiates in the WTO on behalf of the bloc’s 27 members.
Mr. De Gucht, formerly both a member of the European Parliament (MEP) and the EU’s development commissioner, has been nominated to serve as EU trade commissioner for the next five years, but his approval will depend on a vote of confidence in the parliament.