BRUSSELS, Sep 11 (Reuters) Recent upheaval in financial markets has underscored the need for a long-delayed global trade deal and countries must act now to avoid years of further delay, Europe's trade chief said today.
''The cost of remaining concessions that both developed and some, more competitive developing countries need to bring into the final package is small compared to the systemic gain of doing the deal -- especially as global economic conditions are becoming more uncertain,'' Peter Mandelson said.
He warned that without a breakthrough soon, the World Trade Organisation's nearly six-year-old Doha round risked going into ''an indefinite deepfreeze'' because the 2008 US presidential elections will soon distract from the talks.
Negotiators from the 151 WTO member countries are meeting this month in Geneva in a bid to thrash out a consensus on trade in agriculture and manufactured goods, two of the main stumbling blocks in the negotiations.
The Doha round was launched in 2001 in a bid to cut barriers to trade around the planet, boosting the global economy and helping poor countries to export more.
But differences over how to open up markets, chiefly among the EU, the United States and big developing countries such as Brazil and India, have hampered the negotiations.
Mandelson, in prepared comments for delivery at the European Parliament, said he hoped the United States would translate recent statements of commitment by President George W Bush into concrete negotiating moves to help clinch a deal and he said Europe would go as far as it could with concessions.
REUTERS SBC BST2115