9 Dec 2008

More talks needed before trade meeting - diplomats

3:31 pm on 9 December 2008

World Trade Organisation members need more talks before they can decide whether to hold a meeting of ministers to seek a breakthrough in the long-stalled Doha Round, say diplomats.

Earlier there had been signs that ministers might be invited to Geneva in the next few days.

"We're still in the process of consultation," Mexico's WTO ambassador Fernando de Mateo told reporters after a meeting of senior envoys.

In Brussels, French junior trade minister Anne-Marie Idrac said there would definitely not be a ministerial meeting next weekend, but she added: "My understanding is that we still have a window before Christmas."

Speaking after chairing a gathering of European Union trade ministers, she said the question of whether an agreement was possible remained open.

"It is still so open that the director-general of the WTO (Pascal Lamy) has not yet been able to fix a date for a ministerial meeting," she said.

Leaders of the G-20 rich and emerging nations called last month for ministers to reach an outline deal in the seven-year Doha talks by the end of 2008, but the latest delay indicates there are still big gaps between negotiating positions.