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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 July 2006, 13:42 GMT 14:42 UK
G8 deadline on Doha trade talks
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
Jose Manuel Barroso highlighted the importance of the trade round
Leaders of the G8 nations meeting in St Petersburg have set a one month deadline for World Trade Organization (WTO) members to revive stalled talks.

The WTO's Doha Development talks, launched in 2001 with the aim of liberalising global trade, have hit problems over tariffs and subsidies.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Sunday there was agreement on the new "ambitious goal".

He added: "It shows they (G8) are aware of the importance of this trade round."

'Action needed'

"We welcome the decision to ask the WTO director general [Pascal Lamy] to consult members intensively in order to promote early agreement," a G8 statement said following the announcement.

"[We] call upon him to report to the WTO membership as soon as possible with the aim of facilitating agreement on negotiating modalities on agriculture and industrial tariffs within a month," it continued.

"We call upon all countries to commit to the concerted leadership and action needed to reach a successful conclusion of the Doha round."

A spokesman for Mr Barroso explained that "modalities" meant G8 leaders had ordered their WTO negotiators to reach "broad agreement on key figures" as a way of carrying the trade talks forward.

Ailing talks

A year from now the special authority the US president has to negotiate trade deals will expire.

After that it will be harder to get congressional approval, and if the US cannot deliver on whatever its negotiators might agree, other countries will not want to either.

The world's seven richest nations - the US, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada have met annually since 1975
Russia joined in 1998, turning the G7 into the G8
2006 summit to be held in St Petersburg - the first time Russia has hosted the G8
Energy security, infectious diseases and education are on Russia's agenda
Mid-East crisis, Iran, North Korea, and international terrorism are also likely to be discussed

In the West, the EU and US have been at loggerheads over who is putting the most on the table on agricultural issues.

The US has been critical about the extent to which Europe has offered to cut tariffs on farm imports, while the EU has said the US is not doing enough to cut its farm subsidies.

Developing countries agree with both these criticisms of rich countries' farm policies.

Meanwhile, the big emerging economies, especially India and Brazil, are in turn criticised by the US, Europe and others for not being ready to open their markets more to imports of industrial goods.

An attempt to revive the ailing trade round floundered in Geneva earlier in July.

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