21 July 2006

Globalization: Last chance on trade deal?

GENEVA (Reuters) -- Trade powers make what could be a final bid to rescue floundering global free trade negotiations at the weekend, but with few signs yet that they will be bringing the needed life-lines, diplomats say.

World Trade Organization (WTO) chief Pascal Lamy, who has warned the trade round is sunk deep in crisis, will chair ministerial-level talks between the so-called G6 -- the United States, the European Union, Australia, Brazil, India and Japan -- which has taken the lead in the search for a deal.

After similarly-billed "last ditch" attempts by the G6 in recent weeks, diplomats said that the sessions set for Sunday and Monday really were the last hope for the WTO's Doha round, which aims to boost global growth and reduce poverty.

Another failure would not only mean the WTO had probably run out of time for a free trade treaty by the end of the year, it would lay bare the fact that the G6, whose agreement is seen as vital for a pact within the wider membership, was unable to agree on the core issues of farm and industrial goods, diplomats said.

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