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WTO Chief: Time Running Out For Trade Deal

posted on April 15, 2005

The success of a treaty to liberalize global commerce is on the line because governments are failing to do enough to drive negotiations forward, the head of the World Trade Organization said this week.

In an interview with the Associated Press, WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi said the organization's 148 members cannot afford to miss more deadlines and must step up talks if they want to seal the wide-ranging accord by 2006.

"I'm getting to be less optimistic," he said. "I'm seeing that we're going to have a really hard time ... with nearly everything up in the air."

The plan when talks began in 2001 was to finish the treaty by the end of 2004. But a WTO conference in Cancun, Mexico, in 2003 collapsed amid bickering over investment rules between rich and poor countries, as well as differences on agriculture.

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