SA aims for substantive trade deal

2011-03-08 17:06

Cape Town - South Africa would prefer a new global trade deal that boosts development rather than take a quick deal without such assurances, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said on Tuesday.

South Africa has been at the forefront of long-running negotiations, which show signs of moving towards a new trade regime to open up global commerce and help poor countries prosper through trade.

"We have said we are in favour of an early and successful conclusion - successful meaning loyal to the developmental mandate," Davies told a conference.

"But if we have to choose between early and successful we will take successful and we will wait, rather than early which does not deliver on the mandate," Davies said.

South Africa has been a leading voice for emerging economies.

The United States - key to any deal - has long argued that major powers, especially big emerging economies like Brazil, China and India, need to move beyond declared positions and make concessions to give the talks a chance of succeeding.

Bigger economies want greater access to developing countries in the areas of industrial tariffs and services, while emerging states are wary of acceding to this demand without reciprocity.

"Our approach is to say that we are seeking a developmental outcome to the Doha round, one that sticks to the mandate," Davies said.

The mandate of the Doha talks, which were launched in late 2001, puts the needs and interests of developing countries first, with particular emphasis on agricultural trade and a significant reduction of subsidies in rich countries.

Davies said it remained an open question on whether the Doha round can be finalised before the end of 2011.

"There is quite intense work going on in Geneva in preparation for ... the production of a text and then a finalisation of negotiations by the end of this year," he said.

"Whether that happens or not I think is really quite an open question."