NEW DELHI -- Trade ministers from some of the world's most powerful economies agreed Friday to resume stalled negotiations to forge a new global trade agreement, an Indian official said.
Trade officials will meet in Geneva next week to resume the Doha round of multilateral talks being negotiated through the World Trade Organization to lower tariffs and increase free trade, India's Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said.
"This meeting was to re-energize the process," Sharma told reporters at the end of a two-day informal meeting attended by around 30 trade ministers, heralding the announcement of resumed negotiations as a significant breakthrough.
He said there the meeting showed "a commitment by many key players to fill the gaps in the Doha talks and to conclude," a global trade agreement.
He said all the participants in the New Delhi talks agreed that every effort should be made to complete the Doha talks by 2010.
This round of world trade talks was launched in Doha, Qatar's capital, in 2001. But after seven years of tortuous negotiations, the process broke down in July 2008 because of a disagreement between the United States and emerging economies such as China and India over ways to safeguard poor farmers in developing countries.
This week's talks in New Delhi were an attempt by India to break the deadlock by bringing together some of the key players, including the U.S., the European Union, China, Brazil and South Africa.
Earlier Friday, chief U.S. trade negotiator Ron Kirk told reporters that the global economic crisis should help push the world community toward resuming the negotiations.
The economic downturn has created "a real imperative to move forward on the Doha round," Kirk said.
Kirk says the U.S. is committed to concluding the talks by 2010.
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