Lamy: Final Doha countdown begins

World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy announced at a Trade Negotiations Committee meeting on Tuesday an “intensive” work schedule to finish the Doha Round by the end of next year.

“The final countdown starts now,” he said. World leaders, according to Lamy, have provided a clear signal that they expect the Round to be a deliverable in 2011 and have empowered their negotiators to make the compromises necessary for this to happen.

“We have the technical expertise and we have the work program. We now need to translate these into a comprehensive deal which you can all take back home.” He called for revised negotiating texts to be completed by no later than March and reminded Geneva-based WTO diplomats that once a final subsidy and tariff-cutting package is hammered out, “scheduling and legal polishing will take up a minimum of six to seven months.”

Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke expressed the Obama administration’s support for the “end game” process laid out by Lamy. “Over the past year, we have heard many reasons why it was not timely to enter into the serious give and take necessary to conclude the negotiations. Today, all those reasons, whether real or imagined, are behind us. “The United States is ready, willing, and able to negotiate and we look forward to working with our negotiating partners to conclude a package that is truly worthy of this once in a generation opportunity,” Punke said.