Trading nations are now in a race to another last-ditch deadline 28 days away to overcome weekend failure in Doha Round negotiations to free-up trade, but prospects for a deal and ending "crisis" for the WTO appear slim.
A crucial meeting at the WTO's Geneva base simply highlighted the battle lines and set a new deadline, while the U.S. faced the strongest criticism over its refusal to make further cuts in contested payouts to American farmers.
After the failure of the Geneva meeting, WTO chief Pascal Lamy said that negotiators must "face the fact that we are now in a crisis situation".
Doom-laden rhetoric is nothing unusual at the WTO where the 149 member states have a history of missing targets since they started the Doha Round. The round has swung from near-collapse to revival and back again since it began in 2001 with the goal of slashing trade barriers to manufactured goods, agricultural and services and harnessing commerce for economic growth in the developing world.
On July 1, 2007, the White House is due to lose its special authority from U.S. lawmakers to fast-track trade deals, which could hamper the WTO negotiations if they overrun.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006