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WTO diplomats push for trade deal — again

Trade negotiators will step up work for a new global pact following a call from the weekend G20 summit but have not agreed on a date for ministers to come to Geneva to seek a breakthrough, diplomats said Nov. 17.

Leaders of the G20 group of major rich and emerging economies agreed recently to try to approve the outlines of a new accord in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha round by the end of the year as part of efforts to deal with the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.

But a meeting of about 30 WTO ambassadors agreed negotiators must still narrow the gap on technical issues before trade ministers can follow up that clear political signal with any chance of success.

“We begin the acceleration straight away and let’s see where we get to,” said Australia’s WTO ambassador, Bruce Gosper, who chairs the WTO’s policy-making General Council.

But at another meeting to discuss agriculture, none of the G20 countries indicated how they would show flexibility to help bring about a deal, the mediator for the farm talks, New Zealand’s WTO ambassador, Crawford Falconer, told reporters.

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