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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 November 2005, 06:54 GMT
WTO giants to meet amid deadlock
By Andrew Walker
BBC Economics correspondent

WTO building, Geneva
The biggest players in the WTO want curbs on trade eased
A group of key trade negotiators are due to meet in Geneva in an attempt to break the deadlock in World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks.

Representatives from the EU, US, Brazil and India will hold talks ahead of December's full gathering of the WTO.

The talks in Hong Kong are unlikely to achieve what the big countries want - the full outline of a deal to make major inroads into barriers to trade.

But they still hope to get that outline drawn up in the next few months.

The big countries have not abandoned the hope that they will have the full, detailed agreement by the end of next year.

Farm tariffs

The current obstacles are in the negotiations to cut tariffs - taxes that are applied only to imported goods.

On agricultural tariffs, the EU is under pressure to go further than the cuts it has already offered.

But Europe wants many of the developing countries to cut their tariffs on imports of industrial goods by more than they have proposed so far.

The EU's chief negotiator, Peter Mandelson, has suggested that the EU could table a new offer on farm tariffs.

But he made it clear that it was unlikely to come before the Hong Kong meeting.

He also made it clear that he wanted to see progress in other areas.

If the EU is unwilling to move further at this stage on farm tariffs, it seems unlikely that the Geneva meeting can produce decisive progress.

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