WTO Talks Delayed

No meeting this weekend, but negotiators may meet before year's end.

Three outstanding issues have given WTO head Pascal Lamy reason to postpone a ministerial meeting designed to nail down a long-awaited global trade deal. Lamy made his decision after more than two hours of talks with World Trade Organization representatives. The issues surround cotton, mechanisms to protect poor farmers and proposals to make especially sharp tariff cuts to certain sectors.

In a letter to negotiators delaying the December 13-15 talks, Lamy said,  "Without advancing solutions to these three, we will not stabilize the modalities texts overall. But the delay will be only a few days." Lamy suggests a ministerial gathering could take place in Geneva from December 17-19.

Diplomats stress that many gaps needed to be bridged to avoid yet another failure in the process, which has been given added urgency by the global slowdown. Lamy warned that the potential cost of a second failure in less than six months and a deteriorating economic situation call for prudence.

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