WTO's Lamy cancels China trip for Doha talks

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GENEVA, Nov 27 (Reuters) World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy has cancelled a trip to China to hold discussions in Geneva on the long-running Doha round of trade talks, trade officials said on Tuesday.

This week's meetings will allow the WTO's 151 members to take stock of the talks, launched six years ago to boost the world economy and help poor countries export their way out of poverty, they said.

Staying in Geneva will also let Lamy work on a row between China and Taiwan which threatens to plunge the WTO into crisis.

Trade officials and diplomats do not expect this week's meetings to lead to any major decisions.

But it will allow members to map out a timetable after comments from Lamy and other key figures that no major developments were likely in the talks until January or February next year.

''It's about process... but if you don't get that right nothing else works,'' said one official.

The next big move is when Crawford Falconer, New Zealand's WTO ambassador who chairs the key agriculture talks, issues his revised negotiating text.

Trade diplomats say that has been pushed back to February next year from a previously pencilled-in date this month, to allow negotiators more time to work on thorny technical issues, such as how to measure the consumption of politically sensitive farm products in rich countries.

SLOWING DOWN In the meantime agriculture talks are making progress in other areas, such as export finance.

Many poor countries are waiting to see what happens in agriculture before making commitments on industrial goods.

And the chairman of talks on the services sector is holding back in turn to see what happens in agriculture and industry.

''We've noticed that things are slowing down in services, and in trade and environment,'' the official said.

Meanwhile the chairman of negotiations on trade rules, governing topics such as anti-dumping which lay down the measures countries can take against imports sold at unfairly low prices, hopes to issue a negotiating text this week.

The WTO's crucial dispute settlement work has been halted by Taiwan's refusal to allow a discussion on the appointment of four appeal judges, including one from China, to go ahead.

The dispute settlement body, which handles trade disputes involving billions of dollars, was due to meet on Tuesday afternoon to see if there was a way out of the row.

Lamy had been due to meet Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai on Monday and take part in conferences in Shanghai on Tuesday.


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