The World Trade Organization announced last week that they are close to a landmark agreement, the first worldwide trade reform since it was formed 18 years ago, after diplomats and trade officials emerged from marathon negotiations that defused some of the most complex disputes last week. WTO chief Roberto Azevedo has told WTO envoys in Geneva he wants to seal the deal within days so that ministers can formally sign off on the package of trade reforms at their biennial meeting in Bali in the first week of December.
There is still a huge issue concerning "trade facilitation", which remains unsettled. But leaders and diplomats are so encouraged by the momentum and the potential boost the agreement would give to global commerce and revive confidence in the WTO as the custodian of global trade rules. Its credibility has ebbed away over the past decade with the slow death of the Doha round of talks, which gave way to the more modest package of reforms now under discussion.
Azevedo effectively called a halt on Wednesday to months of haggling over agriculture, one of the deal's three main unsettled elements with talks that have been dogged by mistrust, brinkmanship and haggling over grammar and semantics, as well as a handful of negotiating demands deliberately raised at a late stage, according to people who have attended the meetings. To read more, read HERE.