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With Clock Ticking, WTO Talks Appear Stalled

With less than 48 hours until the end of the World Trade Organization conference, it appears the talks could make little progress in liberalizing global commerce. Trade negotiators are being urged to step up their efforts.

As they began another long day of talks Saturday, the World Trade Organization's 149 members remained far apart on key issues.

WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell stressed the need for greater effort, as he quoted a conference organizer on the status of the talks. "He said that, given the immense time pressures that we are all under at the moment, it was time to change gears," said the spokesman.

Some delegates and trade experts say that, often, substantial progress to increase trade is made in the last hours of talks.

Many delegates blame the deadlock on the European Union's refusal to make deeper cuts to its farm subsidies. But the Europeans say they have offered significant reforms, and have not seen reciprocal action from developing nations on industrial goods and services.