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Crucial trade talks kick off in Geneva

Crucial trade talks kick off in Geneva
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Ministers and officials meet in Geneva to begin a crucial round of talks in an attempt to reach a global trade pact.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick has called the meeting “now or never” for the Doha round, which was launched nearly seven years ago with the aim to cut subsidies and tariffs and assist developing countries.

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson is under pressure to get a deal after French President Nikolas Sarkozy accused him of giving away too many farm consessions and winning little in return on industrial goods and services from big developing nations China and India.

The Doha round, launched after the September 11 attack on the United States, has a history of failure.

In July 2006, WTO chief Pascal Lamy suspended talks after major players showed no sign of coming together on an agriculture deal.

And in 2007 in Potsdam, Germany, once again, divisions between the US, India and China and the EU over how best to reform agriculture meant another no deal.