25 Nov 2008

Trade talks chairman pessimistic on prospect of deal

3:31 pm on 25 November 2008

APEC leaders may be pushing for action in world trade talks but little progress is being made at the World Trade Organisation's headquarters in Geneva.

In his latest report on the agriculture talks New Zealand trade negotiator Crawford Falconer, who chairs the WTO negotiations, remains pessimistic.

Mr Falconer has held an informal meeting with the full WTO membership to report back on progress in the agriculture negotiations.

Achieving a breakthrough there is seen as crucial to reaching a deal in the Doha development round and APEC leaders have called for trade ministers to meet in Geneva before Christmas to settle on the outline of a deal.

Mr Crawford told WTO members no country is showing enough flexibility to make a deal possible, even after the earlier meeting of rich nations in Washington also called for action.

"The tsunami of flexibility that I expected to see forthcoming after the earthquake in Washington some days ago, and alas I'm afraid I still have nothing to report, its still a nil return."

Mr Falconer says he will continue consulting and will hold another full meeting of the membership on Friday.