Trade Freeze

GENEVA, July 27, 2006 (AFP) – World Trade Organisation nations endorsed on Thursday suspension of free-trade negotiations after they collapsed on Monday, diplomats and trade officials said.

Several countries attacked the so-called G6 of leading trading powers for refusing concessions to open the way for a treaty and said that progress made so far must be kept alive for a resumption of the Doha Round.

The ruling General Council of the 149-nation WTO “took note” of a report by director general Pascal Lamy, in which he reaffirmed his recommendation, made on Monday, to freeze the faltering negotiations, the sources said.

Lamy’s decision to suspend the talks followed the acrimonious collapse of a meeting of six leading trading powers, which sent the WTO’s five-year search for a multilateral free trade deal toppling towards total failure.

A string of delegates who spoke at Thursday’s session said they regretted that heavyweight WTO members Australia, Brazil, the European Union, India, Japan and the United States had been unable to come up with a crucial compromise.

Cambodia proposed that the freeze should last only until the next General Council session in October, but