July 3, 2006

Last last-ditch effort to save WTO talks fails - attention now shifts to last last last-ditch effort

This weekend's Geneva Mini-Ministerial conference failed yesterday over the same old, same old lingering deadlocks. You know things have really come to a head in the World Trade Organization talks when even the Director General, Pascal Lamy, starts using the C-word to describe the state of negotiations.

The last last last-ditch effort comes in two weeks, when the G8 meets in Saint Petersburg and the whole Doha hot-potato gets tossed up a level, from Trade Ministers to Heads of Government. Some people think that the round was so deadlocked, it was never going to move without Head of Government-level intervention anyway, and that you weren't going to get that level of attention until the Trade Ministers led the round to a near-death experience like the one it's having now.

But can the Bush administration make a dramatic overture just four months before a tough mid-term election? And can Chirac overcome the temptation to poo-poo the whole thing?