Prospects of greater market liberalisation under the Doha Development Round have suffered a serious setback, following the collapse of trade talks between the EU, the USA, India and Brazil in Germany last week.

The meeting was intended to seek out areas of consensus between the four key players in reducing border protection for agriculture and winding down trade-distorting farm policies. But the talks, that were supposed to take four days, lasted just two before the two developing countries walked out.

Chairman of the WTO’s agriculture committee Crawford Falconer is still planning to table a new draft agreement to put to the WTO’s 150 members, in the hope of getting a deal by the end of July.

But EU agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel thinks the chances of this happening are now slim. “Historic opportunities have been lost,” she said.

It is understood that the EU had offered to cut its highest agricultural import tariffs by 70% – 10% more than it had previously put on the table.

EU and US negotiators blamed the two developing countries for making unrealistic demands on market access, while refusing to offer much in the way of access to their growing industrial and service sectors.