Agriculture negotiators must seize the moment if they hope to secure substantial progress in free trade talks, according to World Trade Organization director-general Pascal Lamy.

According to The Packer, Lamy said in a Nov. 26 report that the Dec. 13-18 World Trade Organization ministerial meetings in Hong Kong won’t be the place where full agreements on trade concessions will be made.

Even so, the sense of urgency is great to move to a workable conclusion as quickly as possible, he said.

Four days earlier in Rome, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said he agreed that the U.S. has not seen the progress it wants to see in agriculture negotiations.

“Our ambitious offer has not been matched,” he said, speaking of the U.S. proposal in October to cut farm supports by 50% if other WTO members do the same.

Speaking on background, one Washington, D.C.-based trade lobbyist said there were low expectations for the Hong Kong ministerial, with some lobbyists trying to pull out of hotel reservations.

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The Packer