The deadlocked Doha Round of global trade talks will be on the agenda Friday when U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk meets with World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy in Washington.
Kirk is expected to tell Lamy the time has come for both an honest assessment of where the negotiations stand, and realistic guidance about where the Round should go. Deputy USTR Michael Punke is the Obama Administration's eyes and ears inside WTO headquarters in Geneva.
"What we are doing today in the Doha negotiations is not working," Punke said. "That is not a values statement but a simple assessment of the facts. After 10 years we are deadlocked. The ability of the WTO's collective membership to acknowledge the reality of our situation will be the first test of whether we can devise a credible path forward. This is important for the Doha negotiations but also for the broader credibility of the WTO as a forum for trade negotiations."
Punke says Washington's view is that the talks will continue to flounder until key negotiating partners exhibit a willingness to engage.
"At one level the diagnosis for what ails the Doha Round is quite simple," Punke said. "Since negotiations began in 2001 the world has changed dramatically. Above all we have watched the rise of emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil. The Obama Administration with the strong support of Congress believes that China and other emerging economies must shoulder new responsibilities to reflect this change. So far they have been unwilling to do so."
Lamy 's conversation with Kirk is among several he's having with WTO Trade Ministers ahead of the trade body's biennial conference in December.