WTO negotiators say scant progress made in trade talks

GENEVA, March 22, 2010 (AFP) – Scant progress has been made in talks for a global trade pact, top negotiators told World Trade Organisation member states Monday, dampening hopes of a deal in the Doha Round soon. The round of negotiations for a trade liberalisation deal are primarily aimed at removing obstacles to trade for poor nations by cutting agriculture subsidies and tariffs on industrial goods.

Since they were launched in the Qatari capital Doha in November 2001, deadlines to conclude the talks have been repeatedly missed.

Discussions have been dogged by a range of disagreements, including on how much the United States and the European Union should reduce aid to their farmers and the extent to which developing countries such as India and China should lower tariffs. Negotiators told senior officials meeting in Geneva to take stock of developments in the talks that “little progress has been made since the texts of December 2008,” said WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell.

He was referring to the most recent set of documents used as a basis for negotiations between the 153 member states.

The inertia also meant that there was little chance that a ministerial meeting would be called soon to len