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Home > Business > Business Headline > Report

Talks process faces flak

Sidhartha in Cancun | September 15, 2003 12:55 IST

Even after extensive consultations, the draft ministerial declaration released on Saturday afternoon did not reflect the opinion of a majority of the 148 members of the World Trade Organisation.

At least two of the five facilitators, who had been selected to assist in consensus building on the main areas under negotiation, failed to bring out the views of the WTO membership. This has forced officials to question the selection process adopted for preparing the draft ministerial declaration.

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The officials said with regard to agriculture and the Singapore issues, the proposals presented in the draft declaration was contrary to the views expressed by a large number of countries.

At Cancun there was a recurrence of the problems encountered at the earlier ministerial meetings, especially in Doha in 2001, indicating that there had been no improvement in the process, they added.

They also questioned the rationale of appointing Pierre Pettigrew of Canada as the facilitator for the Singapore issues when Canada was one of the votaries of a multilateral framework on these issues.

"Why wasn't the Kenyan minister selected as a facilitator for the negotiations on agriculture instead of the Singapore minister," an official asked.

Though officials appeared satisfied with the time given for responding to the draft declaration, they were unhappy with the way the WTO Secretariat kept delaying the release of the document, which was originally scheduled to come out on Friday evening.

Officials said given the contradictory views on the draft declaration there was very little chance of a compromise solution emerging immediately.

Trade ministers, who are the heads of delegations in most cases, were busy ironing out differences in the 'Green Room', which has representations from a select few decided by the WTO. In the past, questions have been raised about this process as well.

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