GENEVA (Reuters) - About 30 ministers representing a range of interests in the World Trade Organization’s Doha round talks are meeting this week in Geneva to try to cement the outlines of a deal after years of missed deadlines and delays.
Following are some of the key dates in the latest global free trade push:
NOVEMBER 2001 - WTO members meeting in Qatar agree to launch Doha round of multilateral talks with an emphasis on development and opening markets in agriculture, manufacturing and services. Countries set a goal to finish the round by January 1, 2005.
JANUARY 2002 - Talks get off to promising start with quick selection of chairmen to head negotiating groups in Geneva, the WTO’s headquarters.
OCTOBER 2002 - WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi expresses concern about the slow pace of talks.
MARCH 2003 - Countries miss deadline for deciding on formula to cut agricultural tariffs, domestic support and export subsidies. Similar deadlines are missed in the manufacturing talks and services negotiations begin to fall behind.
SEPTEMBER 2003 - Developing countries savage U.S.-EU agricultural proposal at a ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico, and form the G20 negotiating block led by India and Brazil. Conference chairman Luis Ernesto Derbez ends the acrimonious conference, saying it was impossible in the time left to bridge differences.
JANUARY 2004 - U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick encourages countries to pick up the pieces from Cancun and begin talking again.
JULY 2004 - Negotiators agree in Geneva on a framework for finishing the round, but put off the toughest decisions.
JAN 1, 2005 - WTO members miss deadline for finishing round.
DECEMBER 2005 - The WTO holds its fifth ministerial meeting in Hong Kong. Countries agree to eliminate agricultural export subsidies by 2013, but again failed to agree on formula for cutting domestic farm subsidies and tariffs.
APRIL 2006 - Negotiators miss new agriculture and manufacturing deadlines set in Hong Kong.
JULY 2006 - WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy suspends the negotiations after the G6 comprising the United States, European Union, Brazil, India, Japan and Australia fail to break the impasse on agriculture.
FEBRUARY 2007 - After months of bilateral and small group consultations, Lamy declares multilateral negotiations in Geneva back in full swing.
MAY 2007 - Lamy warns Doha failure would mean “breaking the commitment for a more developing-friendly world trading system.”
JUNE 2007 - U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim and Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath meet in Potsdam to try and break the impasse. The talks collapse with India and Brazil complaining the United States and the European Union were demanding too much new manufacturing market access in exchange for cutting farm subsidies and tariffs.
JULY 2007 - Canadian ambassador to the WTO Don Stephenson and New Zealand ambassador to the WTO Crawford Falconer, who chair negotiating groups on industrial and agricultural goods, release draft proposals meant to push members toward consensus in those two tricky areas.
SEPTEMBER 2007 - WTO member governments start to work through their differences over technical issues outlined in the texts, including the classification of tariffs and designations of which goods should be subjected to faster or slower cuts.
NOVEMBER 2007 - Uruguay’s WTO ambassador Guillermo Vales Galmes circulates a negotiating text on rules which the United States denounced as very disappointing.
JANUARY 2008 - High-level officials including Amorim and Mandelson say they want a ministerial meeting to advance the Doha process in the coming months.
FEBRUARY 2008 - Falconer and Stephenson circulate revised versions of the agriculture and industrial goods papers, prompting complaints from some governments that the two areas of negotiations are unbalanced given the lack of detail in farming.
JUNE 25, 2008 - Lamy calls for selected ministers to meet in Geneva to broker an outline deal in agriculture and industrial goods, with the aim of completing the rest of the negotiations later in the year.
JUNE 27, 2008 - WTO member governments endorse the meeting of ministers, despite reservations in many quarters about the large number of issues yet to be resolved before ministers can make high-level decisions on subsidies and tariffs.
JULY 2008 - Falconer and Stephenson release new updates of the negotiating texts, which form the basis of what will be presented to ministers in high-level talks starting July 21.