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Leuthard calls for "balanced" Doha outcome

Economics Minister Doris Leuthard says more technical work is needed to ensure a "balanced" outcome of the Doha round of trade talks.

She made the remark at the start of a World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial conference in Geneva. While not formally on the agenda, the Doha Round, which is limping into its ninth year, looms large over the gathering.

Leuthard told journalists on Monday that Switzerland was committed to the Doha Round, which "could be concluded in 2010 or several months later".

But the talks had to be "balanced on all 20 elements" under negotiation and must not simply focus on agriculture, she said.

"Switzerland will be asked to pay a very high price on agriculture for the Doha Round," Leuthard said.

Any decision on the Doha Round was likely to go to a referendum in Switzerland, where there was a risk of a no vote, she warned.

Instead of sensitive tariff and subsidy negotiations, the three-day conference in Geneva will focus on the big picture: stabilising and rejuvenating commerce in the face of increased protectionism, unemployment and exporting of jobs.

swissinfo.ch with agencies


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