Iowa Public Television


WTO Chief: I'm Hitting The Alarm Button

posted on July 22, 2005

Ahead of a critical meeting next week, WTO chief Supachai Panitchpakdi warned in Geneva, Switzerland, this week that global trade talks are at a standstill and face a "crisis of immobility."

"I have said before that my finger was hovering over the alarm button," he told a meeting of the WTO's governing general council. "Now I have pressed it. I urge you all to hear the alarm and act upon it."

The WTO is running at least two years behind its goal of brokering a world trade deal by the end of 2004. To reach a deal by 2006, its members have set a July deadline for an outline covering all sectors.

But trade negotiators have lowered their expectations for that series of meeting at WTO headquarters next week. The meetings are seen as a key part of the process of hammering out an accord at a December 2005 ministerial summit in Hong Kong.

"There must be a balanced package in sight by the time we go to Hong Kong," Panitchpakdi said, but "the cure remains elusive and every day the crisis of immobility deepens."

Tags: news trade