Decisive Deadline Dropped: Doha Deal Deemed Deader Dan Dodo

Breaking news for the one or two of you who give a rat’s ass about trade negotiations: with a week to spare, trade ministers have already given up on the April 30th deadline for a new WTO agreement.

With his archetypically French flair for the eyebrow-raising quip, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy told reporters “we may have missed the deadline but we are not in deadlock.” Of course, it’s his job to put the best face possible on setbacks big and small; everybody knows that missing this deadline makes it virtually certain that no WTO agreement will be signed before 2009, and possibly for much longer.

Trade ministers have already shifted their attention to a Byzantine debate about whether it would even be helpful to set a new deadline at this point. Of course, a good number of them have surrendered to the by-now-traditional pleasures of the post-missed-deadline round of bitter recriminations (read that last link with an eye out for how incredibly annoyed the Americans are getting at Mandelson’s famously smarmy brand of public relations.)