WTO’s Doha trade talks unfinished business, South Africa says

Developing nations want to work through their differences with rich countries and continue World Trade Organization negotiations on opening markets, especially in agriculture, South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said.

“There are a number of developed countries who basically want to say Doha has run its course, it’s been there for 14 years and it hasn’t delivered, so it’s time to move on,” Davies said in an interview in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Wednesday. “The other paradigm for the vast majority, including the African group, is that there is unfinished business from Doha.”

The Doha talks, called so because they begun in the Qatari capital in 2001, are aimed at adding billions of dollars to global trade by spurring cross-border commerce. Negotiations have been stuck since 2009 because of differences between wealthy and poor nations, chiefly over subsidized farming in the developed world. A WTO ministerial-level meeting in Nairobi this week is meant to move the talks forward.

“The unfinished business includes the reform of agriculture that remains one of the biggest single systemic issues in the global trade system that contributes to actively disadvantage many poor farmers in developing countries,” Davies said.

Trade officials from developed nations, such as Germany and Australia, called for results to the Doha process in statements at the meetings in Nairobi.

“Fourteen years after the launch of the Doha round, we cannot continue with business as usual,” Matthias Machnig, state secretary with Germany’s economic affairs ministry, said in a statement published on the WTO’s website. “We need results for the Doha issues.”