Outstanding trade disputes and the question of what needs to be done to launch a new round of World Trade Organization talks later this year are expected to dominate European Union Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy's meetings with U.S. officials in Washington this week.
"I think the thrust of the meeting [with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick today] is where to go from here," a spokesman for the European Commission's Washington office said, referring to efforts to launch a round of talks at the the World Trade Organization's ministerial meeting in Doha, Qatar, Nov. 9-13.
A U.S. trade official said Zoellick and Lamy hope to build on a growing "enthusiasm behind the launch of a new round" and discuss ways to help developing countries implement the commitments they make under global trade pacts.
In addition, Lamy is expected to discuss bilateral disputes over steel, beef and the EU's recent decision to block General Electric Co.'s plan to purchase Honeywell International Inc.
At the WTO's last ministerial meeting in Seattle, member countries failed to agree on an agenda for a new round of talks. With less than 18 weeks before the Doha meeting, the U.S. and the EU are anxious to avoid another disaster.
WTO Director General Mike Moore has scheduled a special "stock-taking session" in Geneva at the end of July to assess prospects for launching a round. The issue also will be a focus of this weekend's summit meeting of the Group of 7 major economic powers in Genoa, Italy, starting Friday.