In the World Trade Organisation, the Doha Round is at a critical stage. After the failure of its “mid-term” conference in Cancún in September 2003, it had regained momentum last summer through the “July 2004 Package”, which defi ned the contours of a possible fi nal accord and the “modalities” by which to achieve a meaningful outcome of the negotiations in due time. However, the “fi rst approximation” of this goal, envisaged for July 2005, with preliminary agreements on how the overall deal could be put together at the WTO Ministerial Conference in mid-December in Hong Kong, did not materialise. Negotiators were unable to agree on certain “concessions” from developed countries on agricultural subsidies and import barriers, to be balanced out by “concessions” from developing countries on market access more generally. Pascal Lamy, the former EU Trade Commissioner and Director-General of the WTO since September 2005, faces the challenge of leading the negotiations into the home straight. In view of 148 member countries with highly diverging interests, this is no easy task.
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