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WTO Chief Pessimistic About Trade Talks Talks in Paris


World Trade Organization head Pascal Lamy said he doubts trade minister who are meeting in Paris will make much headway in unblocking the stalled Doha round of trade liberalization talks. Lamy spoke in Paris at the annual Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development meeting.

WTO chief Pascal Lamy said the hurdles the trade ministers will have to overcome in reaching accord may be too high.

Negotiations around what is called the Doha trade round risk collapsing this year if ministers cannot reach agreement on a number of sticky issues, including agricultural subsidies.

Mr. Lamy offered his own take on the lack of progress.

"The reason why its so difficult is because these negotiations are aiming at a high level of ambition," Mr. Lamy says. "This round, as compared to previous rounds, has been structured in a way that it would bring deeper, larger and fairer results across the board - which is basically why its so difficult."

Lamy has called a number of countries, including Brazil, the United States and India, to make critical concessions to rescue the talks.

At the OECD, Chile's Economy Minister Ingrid Antonijevic said developing countries, for one, were prepared to make sacrifices so the talks can succeed.

"We as developing countries cannot expect to have a round for free," Antonijevic says. "We are aiming at substantial changes in the way trade is conducted and this will necessarily involve some economic and political costs."

Earlier in the day, the OECD chief economist offered a mixed economic prognosis for industrialized countries. While the U.S. economy is expected to grow three-point-six-percent in 2006, it risks overheating.

The OECD also predicts the 12 euro-zone countries of the European Union are heading for economic recovery. But it cautions high oil prices, tax hikes and a possible rise in the euro also pose risks for European economic growth.

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