Square One

GENEVA, July 24, 2006 (AFP) – Key negotiators have made no progress as they try to bridge persistent differences and end a deadlock in the World Trade Organisation’s struggling Doha Round talks on reducing trade barriers, diplomats said Monday.

Crunch talks between six major trading nations on Sunday failed to deliver the much-needed breakthrough to end what WTO chief Pascal Lamy has warned is a crisis at the global body.

Top officials including US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and counterparts from Australia, Brazil, India and Japan were renewing their effort on Monday with another meeting behind closed doors in Geneva.

The Doha Round is teetering on the brink after years of disagreement over the reforms to agricultural and industrial trade that members of the 149-nation WTO would have to enact.

The round, which was launched in 2001, has been marked by repeated rows among WTO heavyweights.

Much of the deadlock centres on the farm trade, particularly US farm subsidies and EU duties on agricultural imports.

The key trading nations are at loggerheads over the relative concessions required.

Talk of flexibility is tempered by a common refrain at the WTO: that it is u