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WTO chief says negotiations on trade deal 'changing gears'

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World Trade Organization chief Roberto Azevedo said on Thursday efforts are intensifying to end more than a decade of stalemate in negotiations for global trade liberalisation.

[GENEVA] World Trade Organization chief Roberto Azevedo said on Thursday efforts are intensifying to end more than a decade of stalemate in negotiations for global trade liberalisation.

"The negotiations are changing gears, very visibly, very clearly," Mr Azevedo told reporters in Geneva.

The WTO launched the Doha Round of trade liberalisation talks in 2001, with the stated aim of underpinning development in poorer nations.

The talks have repeatedly faltered, but the organisation's 160 members have given themselves until the end of July to agree on a way forward by finalising a work programme for the negotiations.

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Mr Azevedo said member countries up until the end of last year had simply been identifying problems and restating their positions and concerns.

"That clearly changed," he said: "Right now you will see a number of delegations exploring new approaches... Proposals are being put on the table."

He stressed "that doesn't mean yet that we are converging. We're still putting things on the table and testing all the different options."

"At least we are moving into a solution-finding mode."

While an overall Doha agreement has until now remained elusive, WTO members reached a landmark deal in Bali in late 2013 on overhauling global customs procedures.

Bali was the first multilateral agreement concluded by the WTO since its inception in 1995, and marked the first concrete progress on Doha.

Last November, countries began ratifying the Bali agreement, and it is due to take effect once two thirds have gone through the ratification process.

AFP

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