The World Trade Organisation Monday finally made the conclusion that the deadlines for reaching 'modalities' for agriculture and non-agricultural market access by the end of this month could not be met, and that a planned meeting of some 30 Ministers would be called off.
WTO Director General Pascal Lamy has cancelled a 'mini ministerial' meeting which was intended to finalise negotiations in the controversial trade round. The meeting would have excluded most countries from the developing world, and was cancelled following angry protests from developing countries, NGOs and trade unions.
The mood at the World Trade Organisation headquarters turned even more sombre Wednesday 19 April as many delegates have become convinced that it would be impossible to agree to modalities for agriculture and non-agricultural market access by the 30 April deadline set by the Hong Kong Ministerial.
In the context of the current negotiations on trade facilitation, development must be the main objective and focus, said the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of developing countries in a proposal submitted to the WTO's Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation.
'The best approach is not to speculate and see what we learn on Tuesday' when the four testify, said Ben Stone, executive director of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, which is representing one of the protesters.