The director general of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy, said on Monday that he recommends an indefinite suspension of the turbulent five-year round of global trade talks as gaps between key players remain too wide.
The only course of action I can recommend is to suspend the negotiations across the round as a whole, to enable a serious reflection by participants, which is clearly necessary, Lamy told journalists in Geneva, without setting a date for restarting the talks.
Lamy was speaking after a crucial two-day meeting between six key trading nations - representing a cross-section of interests in the 149-nation body - collapsed on Sunday.
The G-6 failed to break a deadlock over farming subsidies, as agreements could not be reached regarding two key agricultural issues; market access and domestic support. The third key issue, non-agricultural market access had not yet been discussed, Lamy said.
The ministers from the G6 group - Australia, Brazil, India, Japan, the European Union and the United States - failed to make a breakthrough at a 14-hour negotiating session on Sunday and had been due to resume talks on Monday.
The WTO Chief explained that a conclusion can be reached once internal work within countries is done, and progress is made in entrenched positions.
â€œIn practical terms, this means that all work in all negotiating groups should now be suspended, and the same applies to the deadlines that various groups were facing,â€ he went on.
The round is put in a state of suspension until we can find the ingredients that will carry it forward and deliver on the mandate of Dohaâ€, he added.
The Doha Development Round, named after the Qatari capital where the talks were first held, were aimed at boosting the world economy and pulling millions out poverty by lowering trade barriers across all regions. One of the main goals was to open exporting markets from developing countries.
It resulted in accusations from the European Union blaming the failure on the United States saying that it had showed little effort to reach a compromise. EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said the United States had been unwilling to lower government subsidies paid to American farmers.
U.S retaliated by saying the EU and other WTO members had not done enough to lower farm tariff barriers. U.S. officials also blamed Brazil and India for refusing to cut barriers on industrial imports.
For now, the indefinitely suspended status of the talks means a multilateral agreement will not be reach for months or even years. Individual nations may continue to pursue bilateral agreements, though it is thought that this will bring about fewer benefits than a comprehensive agreement.