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WTO’s Lamy Says Trade Deal Is Needed to Ease Bali Talks

World Trade Organization members need to agree on topics related to trade facilitation, agriculture and developing countries by the middle of the year to reach a deal at the ninth ministerial conference in December in Bali, Director-General Pascal Lamy said.

“There remain many technical topics open, and it’s about closing them one by one. I believe this is doable,” Lamy said at a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He said it would be good to aim for the “low-hanging fruit” in trade talks rather than one single full-trade agreement.

The WTO member countries aim to salvage an interim deal on specific issues from the Doha Round of trade talks at the meeting in Bali. Swiss Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, speaking at the same press conference after a ministerial meeting in Davos, said the WTO aims to roll back protectionist measures and reach a trade-facilitation agreement.

“Time is short and all members agreed we should be realistic and not overload the boat,” Schneider-Ammann said. “I insisted on focusing on items that are doable and where consensus can be realistically achieved.”

There has been a “growing sense of optimism” in recent days, Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan told reporters at the press conference today. “We would like Bali to be a place we can move things forward. Bali should be place where failure could not and should not be an option.”

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