Trade negotiators meeting under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have reached another impasse in the series of trade-liberalization talks known as the Doha Round. The primary sticking point, as in the past, is trade in agricultural products, although other types of goods are affected as well. Negotiators had hoped for a preliminary meeting on May 19, "but there have been difficulties in finalizing that deal and obtaining approval from the broader WTO membership," according to the law firm of Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A. In addition, there have been repeated delays in drafting revisions to key negotiating texts. The likely result is a further postponement of talks on agriculture, non-agricultural market access (NAMA) and services. Those meetings are a necessary condition for talks at the ministerial level. The May meeting is now unlikely to be held until later this summer, Sandler & Travis says, "further jeopardizing the goal of securing a final Doha Round agreement by the end of this year." The Doha talks were launched in Qatar in November of 2001. They represent the first attempt by WTO members to include rules on investment in multilateral free-trade negotiations. But they collapsed largely due to disputes over agricultural matters. Late last year, negotiators were hoping for preliminary signing of an agreement this summer, with finalization in 2009, but that timetable has been called into question by the latest delay.
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