The chairman of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) agricultural liberalisation talks has warned the 13-18 December Hong Kong trade summit is highly unlikely to agree comprehensive final goals for the negotiations.

New Zealand Ambassador Crawford Falconer said there remained significant disagreements on market access (tariffs, import quotas, etc), leaving too little time to agree a draft.

More likely, say WTO diplomats, is a Hong Kong deal “seeking to preserve” progress made this month, where both the USA and the European Union (EU) have proposed cutting production subsidies. EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson also wants movement on liberalising services and industrial goods, giving negotiators bargaining counters for further agricultural concessions.