DOHA, Sunday 11 November — Intense backroom discussions marked the first two days of the WTO meeting.
Developing countries feel that the ministerial draft circulated by Director General Michael Moore and Stuart Harbinson, chairperson of the General Council, is unbalanced and does not reflect their opinions and interest.
Murasoli Maran, India’s Minister of Trade and Industry, stated that the ministerial was "a mere formality and we are being coerced against our will."
The United States, the European Union, and other developed countries want to launch a new round of trade negotiations that would include addressing the "new issues" of investment, government procurement, competition policy, and trade facilitation.
The developing countries want the ministerial to focus mainly on implementation matters related to the previous round, the Uruguay Round.
"This is simply a matter of capacity. With all the outstanding problems of implementation, developing countries simply cannot take on new commitments to liberalize now," said Minister of Industry and Trade Iddi Samba from Tanzania.
Samba also attacked the "non-transparent process that is marginalising the African countries."
He added, "No matter how loudly we say it, it seems our opinions no longer count."
Given the standoff between developed and developing countries, the fate of the Fourth Ministerial Session of the WTO hang in the balance as it entered its third day on Sunday, November 11.