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Impasse Puts Trade Talks in `Crisis' State

July 01, 2006|From Reuters

GENEVA — Major trading states failed Friday to make a breakthrough in deadlocked trade talks and an Indian minister said the discussions were in crisis.

The talks stalled at the end of the first day of a scheduled three days of meetings with ministers from about 60 countries.

"We must understand that we have not been able to move. We must recognize there are major gaps.... There is a crisis," Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath told reporters after a negotiating session of six large trading nations.

A session of the full 149-state trade organization, initially set for this Saturday morning, has been postponed, although groups of some ministers are expected to meet.

Pascal Lamy, head of the organization, had said that without progress this weekend, there might not be enough time to conclude the current round of talks by their year-end deadline.

The talks pit the European Union and the United States against each other and against leading developing states.

Launched in 2001 to boost the global economy and tackle poverty, the so-called Doha round is far behind schedule. The U.S. is resisting pressure to give ground on farm subsidies, despite talk by the EU that it could be more flexible on farm import tariffs.

Developing countries say concessions by rich countries on farm trade are a condition for them to cut industrial tariffs. They also say that demands by wealthy nations on manufacturing are excessive.

U.S. trade negotiator Susan Schwab declined to comment.

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