Crisis is the natural state of world trade negotiations. But this week will be different.
Ministers meeting in the Indonesian resort of Bali from Tuesday until Friday will decide the fate of the World Trade Organization, with two possible outcomes: a global trade agreement, the first since the WTO was created in 1995, or a failure that kills off the Doha round of trade talks and casts the WTO into obsolescence.
The 159 WTO members have pushed the crisis to the brink by failing to finalize the text of a deal in Geneva, leaving a Swiss cheese of a draft after marathon talks that WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo finally halted at 7 a.m. last Monday.
Azevedo had repeatedly said the text must be settled in Geneva and there could be no negotiations in Bali. Ministers indulging in political point-scoring and rhetorical grandstanding are thought unlikely to succeed where their Geneva-based trade negotiators have failed.
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