Updated: 08/01/2014 10:41 | By Agence France-Presse

WTO fails to agree key trade deal

The World Trade Organization on Thursday said its 160 members had failed to agree a landmark global customs pact in a move the US said left the body on "uncertain new ground".


WTO fails to agree key trade deal

Delegates leave a meeting at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) headquarters in Geneva late on July 31, 2014 - by Fabrice Coffrini

"We have not been able to find a solution that would allow us to bridge the gap," WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo said in a statement after the passing of a July 31 deadline for the deal.

A draft of the so-called Trade Facilitation Agreement, which would streamline global customs procedures, was agreed at a Bali conference in December last year and was meant to be finalised this month.

But rifts between members, particularly over demands from India that the world body gives the green light to the developing power's stockpiling of food, had threatened to scuttle the long-sought deal.

Azevedo urged members "to reflect long and hard on the ramifications of this setback". 

US ambassador to the WTO Michael Punke said the failure to agree a deal "has put this institution on very uncertain new ground."

"We are obviously sad and disappointed that a very small handful of countries were unwilling to keep their commitments from the December conference in Bali," he said after the meeting in Geneva.

Throughout Thursday Azevedo held talks with coordinators of regional groups within the WTO to try to find a way forward, but without success.

At the end of the evening he held brief closed-door talks with representatives of all 160 members before announcing that an agreement had proved elusive.

India is refusing to ratify the deal, reportedly because it is unhappy with other trade negotiations over both food stocks and farm subsidies.

That obstacle has already sparked criticism from the European Union and a group of 25 developed and emerging countries.

The United States has warned that the blockage could threaten wider future talks on global trade -- the so-called "Doha round".

Earlier there had been hopes that a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in New Delhi at the head of a strong delegation, could help unblock the talks.

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn

NEWS VIDEOS

MORE NEWS VIDEOS

facebook recommendations

LIVE NEWS RADIO STREAMING

  • 938 Live

    938LIVE is Singapore's only English news and talk station which transmits round the clock with an engaging and enticing spread of programmes on current affairs, health, business and lifestyle as well as news every half hour until midnight.

  • Capital 958


    95.8FM城市频道的前身是"第三广播网"。上个世纪30年代末,新加坡就有中文广播,一路走来经过不少政治,社会局势的改变,中文广播在本地一直扮演举足轻重的角色。