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WTO Delegates Race Clock to Reach Agreement - 2001-11-13


This is the final day of the World Trade Organization's ministerial meeting in Doha. Before the day is out, trade ministers representing 142 countries hope to reach agreement on launching a new round of trade talks. The delegates are cautiously optimistic they will succeed. The ministers face a midnight deadline on deciding whether to remove or at least lower trade barriers to global commerce.

Andre LeMay is the spokesman for the Canadian delegation. He says there seems to be a greater atmosphere of compromise in Doha than was evident during the riot-plagued WTO meeting in Seattle in 1999. But he says whether this will actually lead to the launch of a new trade round is anyone's guess. "People remember Seattle and are saying let's not do the same thing. So I think there is a genuine willingness to accomplish something. I think most of the discussion has been very good. The mood seems to be good. The momentum seems to be there," says Mr. LeMay. "Will this be sufficient to come to a launch of a new round of negotiations again? No one is willing to bet their bottom dollar on this."

There are still very sensitive issues being debated. The European Union is said to be resisting any language in the meeting's final declaration that would call for the phasing out of government subsidies for farm exports.

India, Pakistan, Egypt and Bangladesh, major textile-producing countries, were said to be holding out for greater access to the markets of developed countries. India's trade minister Murasoli Maran days "there is a deadlock and it could be a deal breaker."