3 Dec 2009

WTO members commit to completing trade talks

1:56 pm on 3 December 2009

Members of the World Trade Organisation have again committed to finish the Doha round of free trade talks by the end of next year.

The commitment came at the end of a three-day meeting of trade ministers, including New Zealand's Tim Groser, in Geneva.

WTO director-general Pascal Lamy set a deadline for an outline agreement on key issues by the end of the first quarter of next year.

Mr Lamy says a final agreement could be achievable by the end of 2010, but whether that happens depends on members.

World leaders have repeatedly called for a conclusion to the eight-year Doha round to help offset the global economic downturn.

But the lack of a clear direction on trade from the Obama administration in the United States is holding up progress on the talks.

Observers warn if a breakthrough cannot be made in the first half of next year the talks could remain in limbo for years to come.