Lamy raises possibility of WTO talks failure

WTO head Pascal Lamy raised the possibility of a collapse of trade talks between leading nations here on Friday, saying negotiations were “edging between success and failure,” his spokesperson said.

“The situation as I see it is critical, edging between success and failure,” Lamy told a meeting of World Trade Organisation delegations.

Lamy said progress had been “painfully slow” since ministers began talks on Monday with the aim of thrashing out a deal on a new global free-trade pact.

“Some convergences have been recorded but progress remains painfully slow after four days of ministerial negotiation,” Lamy said.

“We need to change gears very quickly to turn things around.”

Lamy called the meeting here of ministers from about 35 leading economies with the aim of mapping out a deal to conclude the long-delayed Doha Round of global trade talks.

Friday is seen as make-or-break for the negotiations.

“Time is running out,” Lamy said. “The next 24 hours are crucial.”

The Doha Round began seven years ago with the aim of helping poor countries enjoy the fruits of freer global trade but the process has been delayed by disputes between the rich developed world and poorer developing nations.

Any final deal, if approved by negotiators here, would still need to be cleared by all 153 WTO member states.

The gulf between rich and poor, developed and developing countries still appears too far to bridge over the crunch issue — cutting tariffs and subsidies on trade in industrial and agricultural goods. – AFP

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