Two months from now there may be a better sense of whether the Doha Round of international trade talks, long delayed by disputes among the World Trade Organization's (WTO) 148 members, will move forward. Negotiations were to have been completed by January 1 of this year.
Representatives of WTO countries are slated to gather in Hong Kong from December 13 to December 18 to work out a negotiating agenda that would allow the talks to be completed by the end of 2006. Agriculture, specifically agricultural tariffs and subsidies, remains a major barrier to moving ahead. The U.S., the EU and a group of 20 developing countries have very different proposals pending.
The current round of trade negotiations is named for Doha, Qatar, where the talks were launched in November 2001.