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World trade talks failing
 
WTO Director General Supachai Panitchpakdi
WTO Director General Supachai Panitchpakdi

The Director General of the World Trade Organisation says he is very disappointed that talks in Geneva on trade liberalisation have not reached an agreement. However he still believed an agreement could be worked out before the WTO meeting in Hong Kong in December. This report from Imogen Foulkes:

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Just last week, the WTO's Director General, Supachai Panitchpakdi, warned of a crisis of immobility in trade negotiations, clearly hoping to create a sense of urgency among member states. But as the talks progressed in Geneva, it became clear the differences were just too great. Discussions on the key issue of agricultural subsidies failed to reach agreement.

In other areas, such as market access, there were no major decisions either. Nevertheless, Dr Supachai said he thought some progress had been made and he said that while the lack of agreement was disappointing, it was not disastrous. What it means, however, is that WTO member states now have only a few months to agree trade deals which have eluded them for three years.

A framework agreement needs to be published by mid-November to give everyone time to consider it before December's summit in Hong Kong. The WTO desperately wants this summit to succeed after the failure of the last one in Cancun, but time is running out and Dr Supachai said, without political commitment at the highest level, an agreement on trade liberalisation was in jeopardy.

Imogen Foulkes, BBC, Geneva

Listen to the words

a crisis of immobility
a situation where there are big problems because nothing is happening

a sense of urgency
a feeling that something must be done quickly

the key issue
the most important subject

agricultural subsidies
the giving of government money to farmers to support the farming industry

eluded
if something you want eludes you, it means you fail to get it

A framework agreement
Not necessarily a full and complete agreement, but the outline, basic structure of an agreement

summit
an important meeting between leaders from different coutries

in jeopardy
in danger of not being successful

 

 
 
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