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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 January 2008, 19:35 GMT
Trade ministers promise Doha push
By Tim Weber
Business editor, BBC News website, Davos

EU trade minister Peter Mandelson
Mr Mandelson says urgent action is needed to secure a deal
Trade ministers from rich and poor countries have agreed to meet this Easter to make one more attempt to negotiate a global trade deal.

EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson warned the trade round could fail if a deal was not struck this year.

The talks are stuck over high farm subsidies in Western countries, and the refusal of developing nations to open up to services and manufactured goods.

The trade ministers were meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.

'Window of necessity'

Mr Mandelson said any incoming US president would "find it difficult to put trade on top of their to-do list".

He said a failure to agree a free trade deal this year would put the text that had been agreed so far "in deep freeze... and it will have turned to mash by 2010" when talks could continue.

India's commerce minister Kamal Nath and US Trade Representative Susan Schwab
Rich and poor nations say a deal is close

His Brazilian colleague Celso Amorim said if last year had been a "window of opportunity" to reach a trade deal, then 2008 would be the "window of necessity".

The meeting of trade ministers at the World Economic Forum in Davos has tradition, but past years have seen similar agreements to strike a deal to a tight deadline, and they have always failed.

Pascal Lamy, the director general of the World Trade Organisation said that he was "not 100% confident" that a deal could be achieved now, but thought it would be "do-able".

US trade representative Susan Schwab said the administration of President George W Bush had made "a very clear commitment to achieve a trade deal in 2008".

However, Mr Bush's "fast-track authority" to push through a trade deal in Congress ended last year, and the US elections are expected to persuade many US lawmakers to take a more protectionist stance on trade.

Ms Schwab called on companies to lobby lawmakers to ensure they would understand the huge economic benefits that this trade deal would bring.

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