GENEVA, July 24 (Xinhua) -- The emergency ministerial talks at the World Trade Organization (WTO) will drag on for the fifth day on Friday after no breakthrough was reported over the past four days on hammering out a global trade deal over the deadlocked Doha Round negotiations.
There were conflicting reports over whether there had been progress so far in the WTO ministerial meeting, which was billed as the last chance to strike a deal on the long-stalled Doha Round of talks within the deadline of this year.
After Thursday's talks, U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab told reporters that there was "some progress" though "not nearly as much as we need."
"Some countries are stretching more than others and we will see tomorrow if everybody is prepared to do their share," she added.
However, European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said "no progress" had been made after four days of talks and bargaining attended by representatives from key WTO members including ministers from some 35 WTO members including the United States, the European Union (EU), India and Brazil.
Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said the talks were "inching" forward in areas ranging from the capping of agricultural subsidies to proposed tariff treatment of manufactured goods.
On Wednesday, Nath urged the United States to cut its farm subsidies further after Schwab announced Washington could cut its annual ceiling of farm subsidies by 2 billion U.S. dollars to 15 billion dollars.
Earlier Thursday, WTO chief Pascal Lamy announced that no breakthrough had been achieved during the talks, which focused on agricultural trade and industrial tariffs.
There had been speculation that the ongoing talks, which were scheduled to conclude on Saturday, would collapse earlier or prolong into next week due to wide gap on positions among the WTO members, especially between the developed ones and developing ones.
"There is still no convergence yet ...on some of the key issues, positions still remain too far apart," WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell quoted Lamy as saying in a briefing to WTO delegations.
Lamy urged the key members to continue their negotiations in the coming day to ensure "every chance" for success.
Trade and agricultural ministers from the United States, the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, India and China had worked overnight Wednesday for a compromise on the major issues that have blocked the Doha Round of trade talks since its launch in 2001.
Rockwell said the overnight talks made some progress but wide differences remained. He refused to give details.
According to Lamy's arrangement, key WTO members should reach agreement first, and then their agreement would be sent for approval by the full WTO membership.
The Doha Round had missed repeated deadlines in the past seven years mainly due to differences between the developing and developed countries over agriculture and non-agricultural market access (NAMA).
While rich nations were seeking more market access to the developing world for their industrial products, developing countries urged developed members to make a deeper cut of farm subsidies and tariffs for agricultural goods.
A failure of this week's talks in Geneva could delay the wrap-up of the Doha Round for another several years.
On Wednesday, Lamy urged WTO members to conduct "more intensified talks" with a sense of urgency and to be prepared for compromises in a bid to break deadlock over the stalled Doha Round negotiations.
"It is clear we need to move into a more intensive mode of consultations including smaller configurations," he said.
On Thursday, several key ministers had stressed the importance of continuing discussions here in an attempt to strike a deal.
"We will continue tomorrow," said Celso Amorim, Brazil's foreign minister and chief trade negotiator, who believed Friday could be the day when people must know whether an agreement is possible or not.
"Maybe we don't finish everything, but we must have an agreement," he told reporters.
Editor: Jiang Yuxia