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Little progress on WTO talks

business Updated: Jul 24, 2008 19:54 IST

The global trade talks among 30 ministers saw little progress in the last three days despite WTO Chief Pascal Lamy breaking the negotiations into several smaller groups, all of which have India on board.

"The seven key countries worked long and hard into the early hours this morning. On the key issues, we do not have convergence yet," WTO Information Director Keith Rockwell told reporters in Geneva on Thursday.

He said on some of the key positions, the ministers still remained too far apart and agreed that more work was needed.

The slow pace of talks has pushed the time table for the five-day Ministerial meeting forward with the Signalling Conference on Services being postponed to Saturday instead of Friday as slated earlier.

"The services negotiations have again been postponded to Saturday and the formal Trade Negotiating Committee scheduled for Saturday would also have to be adjusted," he said.

Lamy formed several smaller groups with seven countries which comprised India, Brazil, China, Australia, Japan, the US and EU.

However, those left out of the process felt "frustrated". Someone in the smaller group meetings even raised the question how discussions on cotton could proceed without involvement of South Africa.

"A number of delegations and ministers took the floor and have expressed concern and frustration at the way the process is taking place because of the smaller group formats," Rockwell said, adding the WTO Director General has understood this "frustration".