Finance ministers and central bank governors of the G-7 countries have called on the World Trade Organization to make significant progress toward a global trade agreement at a summit in Hong Kong later this month.

In a statement at the conclusion of two days of talks in London, officials from the world's seven leading industrialized countries said the WTO meeting will be a critical step in seeking agreement on a comprehensive package for developing countries. The G-7 countries are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, and the United States.

Trade negotiators are working on a binding treaty that would expand the global economy by lowering trade barriers across all sectors. Disputes over agricultural subsidies are the major stumbling block in the current round launched in Doha, Qatar in 2001. The London meeting expressed hope for a final accord by the end of next year.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.