Doha trade talks round could resume in a few months - Russia

MOSCOW, July 25 (RIA Novosti) - Negotiators working on the Doha round of trade talks could restart work in the next few months after the process collapsed Monday, a senior official with Russian's Economic Trade and Development Ministry said Tuesday.

The World Trade Organization's Doha round of trade talks, launched in Qatar in 2001, was intended to address the liberalization of international agricultural and industrial markets and the service sector, but has hit continual problems over the reluctance of European countries and the United States to cut subsidies.

WTO chief Pascal Lamy formally recommended that the round be suspended Monday after talks on opening up global agriculture broke down.

However, Maxim Medvedkov, the director of the ministry's trade talks department, struck an upbeat note after telling journalists that the previous round had also endured a year's hiatus: "I think the countries will spend a few months considering how and on what terms they can return to negotiations, hold consultations, and the process will resume."

Medvedkov said Russia, which is seeking to join the WTO in fall, was interested in successful completion of the Doha round. "This will give us pluses in the mid-term perspective," he said.

He added that if the round were completed, Russia would have to cut subsidies to agricultural producers under WTO terms.

Russian negotiators have insisted on an annual 9 billion rubles ($334 million) in subsidies with cuts to 7 billion rubles ($260 million) over five years. "The new round will have another formula, in line with which Russia will be able to provide only 4 billion rubles ($148 million). But there's no such formula yet officially," he said.

Medvedkov said this issue would be prominent on the agenda of multilateral talks on Russia's accession to the WTO. "We have to hold talks with partners to define the optimal way for us... [which is] to provide our agricultural producers with the maximum funds. This position remains unchanged."

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