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Resumption of WTO talks

The negotiations processes under the World Trade Organizations are now resumed, however only on an informal level or what has been called a “soft resumption”.

In a meeting in Geneva 16th of November the WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy (photo left) pointed to the fact that there had been informal contacts among WTO Members, both in Geneva and beyond, since the freeze of the formal negotiations in the summer of 2006. Mr. Lamy said that the number and frequency of these contacts had been increasing over the weeks, and he saw this as of a “growing and widely-shared desire to make the most of every opportunity to lay the foundations for further progress”.

In his speech Mr. Lamy described the situation as follows: “Today we are somewhere between the quiet diplomacy of the last months and the fully-fledged negotiations which will only come when Members are ready to put numbers to the flexibilities they have already expressed in general terms on key issues, in particular on agriculture market access and domestic support. While I believe we are ready to start technical work at the level of experts, it would be, in my view, premature to move on to ministerial negotiations. What I am suggesting to you we do is prepare the ground for fully-fledged negotiations to take place when the conditions are right.”

The WTO Director-General encouraged the Chairs of the various Negotiation Groups to carry out contacts and consultations as they judge most appropriate, bearing in mind the different circumstances of the various Groups. This means that informal talks also have been resumed within the Working Party on Domestic Regulations, which is right now the WTO process with greatest relevance to alcohol policy.