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Punke: U.S. won't support Doha 'early harvest' idea

A key U.S. trade official said Tuesday that the U.S. government has lost faith in the idea that a smaller Doha round package known as an “early harvest” can be developed before a meeting of trade ministers in Geneva in December, and that the World Trade Organization should give member countries time to work on other issues that the ministers may wish to address at that time.

"Continuing our efforts for an early harvest without prospect of success comes at a significant cost, crowding out essential work on preparations for the ministerial,” U.S. Ambassador to the WTO Michael Punke said in a speech at a WTO trade negotiations committee meeting in Geneva.

“There is a widely shared view that an absolutely essential element of [the December meeting] will be a discussion of where we go from here on Doha.,” Punke said. “We urgently need to work together and to engage in that discussion.”

When the early harvest idea was proposed, he said, the United States expressed its commitment to explore all options, but has seen no progress on key issues. Punke added that the United States remains “open to a creative discussion of development issues.”