Trade Failure

GENEVA, July 24, 2006 (AFP) – A meeting of world trading powers collapsed on Monday, throwing the World Trade Organisation’s five-year search for a free trade deal deeper into crisis and raising the real prospect of complete failure.

“The talks have collapsed. There are no plans for them to meet again,” a senior trade source said, following meetings on Sunday and Monday involving Australia, Brazil, the European Union, India, Japan and the United States.

The source said that further attempts to kickstart the stalled WTO’s Doha Round negotiations might be suspended because the so-called G6 group of influential trading nations had been unable to cut a deal.

“Without the G6 being able to resolve their differences of opinion there’s no way the wider membership can agree,” the source added.

“It’s not immediately evident what options are available, other than a suspension.”

The six represent a cross section of interests at the 149-nation WTO, and have been arguing over disagreements for years.

The United States said that the latest talks had collapsed over customs duties on farm produce.

WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, who has been trying desparately to end the crisis for weeks, had been scheduled to