Over the weekend on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, trade ministers from 20 governments agreed to try to work on a breakthrough in long-delayed World Trade Organization talks by late March or April. Depending on forging compromises from draft agreements on agriculture and industrial products, a ministerial meeting could be set in April around Easter in
Negotiators would then either return to Switzerland for detailed negotiations in each of those areas - industrial products and agriculture, or the talks would move to a more senior 'horizontal' level where countries can look at cross sector trade-offs. To take a hypothetical example, if
Reportedly the man chairing the talks, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy prefers to move quickly into the 'horizontal' phase once Falconer and Stephenson have delivered their new drafts. There is political incentive to wrap up the deal before President Bush leaves office at the end of this year.