WTO says no point in further talks on industrial products access

GENEVA, June 2, 2008 (AFP) – The WTO’s chief negotiator on freeing up access for industrial products said Monday he sees no point in further talks until member states are ready to compromise over tariffs and other key sticking points. The 152 members of the WTO need to “work among themselves to bridge their positions and until they do that, it is pointless to convene NAMA negotiating group sessions,” ambassador Don Stephenson said.

Industrial products come under the rubric of “non-agricultural market access” (NAMA) as part of World Trade Organisation talks launched in 2001 on liberalising the global trading system.

Stephenson said that member states were more divided than ever after he had issued a fresh text aimed at spurring stalled negotiations that are key to any success in the WTO’s long-running Doha trade round.

“Over the course of the week of discussions, things actually got worse rather than better. We got farther from a text that could be put before ministers rather than closer,” he told reporters.

“Some issues that were either resolved or at least nearly resolved were reopened, some extreme positions were maintained, some positions were perhaps even arguably made more extreme,” he added.

The NAMA tex