The ambitious aim of striking a deal ending the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha Development Round before Christmas appears to be running into the sand.

Outgoing chairman of the negotiations' food talks Crawford Falconer said today (28 November) consultations on a range of issues have shown some progress but not "closure".

He will wait for talks scheduled by WTO director-general Pascal Lamy this Sunday before deciding his next steps, but the outlook seems pessimistic.

Even where detailed talks staged this week have been most constructive - developing country tariff protection - "the final picture is still blurred", a Geneva diplomat told just-food, with too little "convergence for agreement".