European Commissioner for Trade Peter Mandelson and EU Commissioner for Agriculture Mariann Fischer Boel will today travel to Kenya for the start of a three day meeting of Trade Ministers of WTO member countries. The ‘mini-Ministerial’ meeting will focus on moving forward the Doha Development Round of international trade talks.
Peter Mandelson said: “The Doha round stands at an important point and there is a need to balance the negotiations. We need to capitalise on the goodwill generated at the Davos informal ministerial to put the round firmly on track for Hong Kong in December. We need to make progress, especially on services and non-agricultural market access, where we need greater ambition. I want the meeting this week to make serious inroads to a major policy package on development and I intend to press this”.
Mariann Fischer Boel added: “We now have to give the necessary political input in order to move the negotiations in all areas of the Doha agenda ahead. There can be no question of just a deal on agriculture; equally there will have to be a balanced deal within agriculture. I am committed to deliver our input for shaping the broad elements of this intermediate package as well as for the final package.”
The Kenyan meeting will involve trade ministers from key country groupings, including representatives of the G90 and the G20. The meeting follows a successful mini-ministerial at the Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland in February. The Ministerial meeting in Mombassa will also seek to reinforce a sense of momentum as the Doha Round moves towards the pivotal December Ministerial in Hong Kong.
The Doha Development Round of trade talks was launched in 2001 and collapsed in Cancun in 2003. It was relaunched in 2004, in part thanks to an ambitious EU offer to end EU agricultural export subsidies as part of a final agreement. The EU has subsequently called for an equally ambitious outcome in trade in services and other non-agricultural market access.
The EU has called for leadership from key players in the round. It has urged the US to move further on reducing farm subsidies. It has pressed advanced developing countries like China and India to send a positive signal to other developing countries by seeking an far-reaching agreement, particularly on non agricultural market access. It calls on all WTO members to meet the deadline of May 2005 for submitting ambitious offers for opening up trade in services.
If the Doha Round is to succeed in 2006, WTO members will have to have advanced significantly towards an agreement by the time of the WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong in December 2005. The Kenyan meeting is the first of a number of key staging posts on the way to this meeting.