WTO trade talks extended briefly

The Doha Round of world trade talks has been granted a brief reprieve until midweek, in an effort to save the negotiations from collapse.

Some European countries have expressed concerns over proposed concessions they believe will harm their farmers. About 30 trade ministers are trying to wrap up a deal aimed at boosting the world economy.

The so-called Doha Development Round has been lurching from one crisis to another during the past seven years. This ministerial level meeting is seen as crucial.  ??Many analysts believe the round will be dead if a deal does not emerge in the next few days. ?

Trade ministers are currently mulling a proposed settlement mediated by WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy. The compromises range from caps on farm subsidies to limits on special treatment for developing countries.

??Several European countries, notably Italy, France and Ireland, are critical of concessions made by European Union Trade Negotiator Peter Mandelson on farm subsidies. They think the cuts are too deep and will harm their farmers.??Mandelson says these fears are misplaced.??

“There is nothing that we are negotiating in this deal that would undermine any part of European agriculture,” he said. “The beef industry, like others in European farming, have a strong future. I believe that as a result of this round, they will be equipped and strong to compete effectively in our European market and I believe that they can look forward to that strong future.”

A WTO spokesman says if a deal does not emerge by this Wednesday, the ministers might take a break from the negotiations.

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