May 10, 2008

Further Slippage In WTO Negotiations

Crawford Falconer has admitted that he may not be producing a new text on agriculture next week. It might slip to the week after. Things are so uncertain that Geneva based diplomats have stopped predicting when the much anticipated WTO Ministerial meeting might take place. One thing is for sure, it won't be in May. This is a bit embarrassing for New Zealand Minister Phil Goff. In his recent discussions with his Indonesian counterpart Goff was told to get real by the Indonesian when he suggested they might be meeting again in Geneva before the end of the month. Goff compounded the embarrassment by stating that his officials were assuring him that a May meeting was still possible. We are concerned that Minister Goff, a star performer for New Zealand on the international stage, is being embarrassed by his officials in this way.

Update 1355 - a Geneva based WTO Ambassador has just advised that Falconer is planning on a new text being out on 19 May (the day the WTO Ministerial was due to start!). Anyone want to take stakes on the number of square brackets in the text?