Cancun: The fifth ministerial meeting of the World
Trade Organisation began yesterday with WTO Director-General
Supachai Panitchpakdi calling on ministers to show "flexibility
and understanding" to reach an agreement that will
take the Doha round of trade negotiations forward to a
successful conclusion in January.
choice before the meeting, Supachai said, was either "to
strengthen the multilateral trading system or flounder"
and "add to the prevailing uncertainties." Mexico
President Vicente Fox, who also spoke at the opening function,
made similar appeals to ministers assembled for the five-day
meeting that ends on 14 September.
the plenary session continues with speeches by ministers,
the real work on negotiating a ministerial declaration
will take place simultaneously in informal, small groups.
''Friends of the Chair'' have been appointed to deal with
the most difficult issues.