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EU Spokesman: No Reason Not to Complete Doha Round by Year End

There is no reason why a final agreement on the long-stalled Doha Round of global trade talks cannot be reached by the year end, a European Union (EU) spokesman said on Monday.

"The leaders' meeting in Washington gave a very clear signal to trade ministers to get back to work to conclude this round, preferably at the end of this year," the European Commission spokesman for trade, Peter Power, said during his daily media briefing.

Leaders from the Group of 20, which includes major industrial and emerging economies, had gathered in Washington on Saturday to discuss the global financial crisis and the world economy.

They pledged to seek a framework of agreement on the Doha Round by the end of this year as part of a strategy to counter the financial crisis.

With political will and leadership, there is no reason why the Doha Round cannot be completed before Christmas since 80 percent of the work had been done in July, said Power.

Trade ministers from major World Trade Organization (WTO) members met in Geneva in July in a key effort to revive the round, but they failed to wrap up the negotiations due to disagreements between the Untied States and India on a special safeguard mechanism for agricultural products of developing countries.

The Doha Round of trade talks, which started in 2001, has been deadlocked over the past seven years and repeatedly missed deadlines.

"This is a challenge that lies ahead and a challenge that must be answered," Power said, adding whether a meeting would be called in December was up to the WTO's Geneva headquarters.

(Xinhua News Agency November 18, 2008)

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