Byline: John Zarocostas, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
GENEVA - The big challenge for top officials from 149 countries attending the World Trade Organization minis- terial conference, which opens tomor- row in Hong Kong, is how to bridge the North-South divide, particularly over agriculture, to advance the troubled global Doha, Qatar, talks.
Before the summit, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said that one thing the meeting will not change is the deadline for bringing the Doha round to a successful conclusion by the end of 2006.
WTO member countries know that failure at the Hong Kong talks "would totally ruin any prospect for the negotiations to be finished in 2006," Mr. Lamy told reporters.
There are concerns in WTO diplomatic circles that the U.S. Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which runs out in the middle of 2007, might not be renewed because of the increased bipartisan protectionist sentiment fanned by the …