21 Jul 2008

Goff optimistic about Doha breakthrough

8:13 pm on 21 July 2008

Trade Minister Phil Goff says he is confident of a breakthrough in the latest round of Doha trade talks, which began in 2001.

Ministers from more than 30 countries are meeting in Geneva on Monday.

Officials are to discuss draft texts on agriculture and non-farm goods, which are seen as the blueprint for a comprehensive deal.

But Mr Goff big countries such as India, Brazil and China need to be prepared to negotiate.

Discussions have so far foundered over the extent of cuts to farm subsidies and how far trade in services such as banking should be liberalised.

Mr Goff says the draft reports put them closer to an agreement. If the talks fail, it is more likely to be a result of the industrial side.

The BBC says huge obstacles remain in the way of agreement, with little progress made on the key sticking points in recent months.

Officials from the United States, the EU and emerging economic powers such as China, India and Brazil are under fierce pressure to try to reach an agreement before the end of the year.