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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 August 2004, 03:47 GMT 04:47 UK
Analysis: Much work ahead for WTO
By John Moylan
BBC Europe business reporter in Geneva

EU trade commissioner Pascal Lamy
Officials like Pascal Lamy were relieved a deal was struck
When the WTO decision came early on Sunday morning, the relief was palpable.

The meeting had been delayed an hour and a half for the oddest of reasons.

In the urgency to put together a new text, there appears to have been a problem in cutting and pasting the document, and some delegations realised the text was not what they thought it would be.

So it had to be redone, and a little cart was brought into the meeting room late on Saturday evening which had piles of the new text on it.

We were waiting outside wondering how long it would all take, but about an hour later spokesman Keith Rockwell came out and described the moment when the chairman formally put the document for the approval of the national delegates.

"He asked the meeting: 'Can I take it the decision has been approved?', and bang, yeah, it had been," said Mr Rockwell.

"The decision had been approved, the decision has been taken, the July package has been done."


Throughout the day the mood amongst ministers and diplomats seemed to lift as last-minute negotiations managed to iron out the remaining problem areas.

Oxfam protest against WTO talks
It is still too early to say if the final document will sink or swim
The accord covers trade liberalisation in agriculture, industrial goods and services but it will probably be remembered for the moment the developing world finally struck a blow against the regime of subsidies rich countries give their farmers.

How significant a blow will only become clear after several more years of negotiations to flesh out this slender 17-page outline deal.

It is only a framework.

And there is a lot more work to be done, because these 17 pages have to be turned into a document which will run to many hundreds of pages.

The detail has to be added and it is only then that we can work out to what extend it's a good deal for the rich nations and to what extent it's a good deal for the least-developed countries.

Back on track

Now the delegates will take a break, get a lot of sleep and then resume.

It'll be difficult because there is the US election coming in November, and there are changes at the top of the European Commission, so there will be a slight lull.

But if you think back to the collapse of the Cancun talks last September, there were fears for the future of this trade round, and the future of multilateralism in trade.

But tonight there is a sense that the Doha trade round which started in 2001 is back on track.

The whole process has been given a bit of momentum.

In the next year or two the flesh will be put on the bones of this slender document.

But in any case the impact of the deal is unlikely to be felt for a decade or more at the earliest.

The BBC's John Moylan
"The impact of the deal is not likely to be felt for a decade or more"

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