6 Nov 2007

European Trade Commissioner thinks Pacific-wide trade deal unlikely

10:45 am on 6 November 2007

The European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has suggested he will not be able to conclude a Pacific-wide trade deal by the end of the year.

The European Union is trying to negotiate trade deals with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

Their existing trade agreement gives preferential access and the World Trade Organisation says it must end before 2008.

Ben Lowings reports from London.

"The EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson made a speech to a European Parliamentary committee in Brussels. Mr Mandelson said some ACP regions would not be ready to sign full or even interim deals by the end of the year."

However he said it was possible that agreements could be reached with groups of countries within regions. Mr Mandelson said there was no alternative for those countries which did not sign up to a new agreement compatible with WTO rules.

He criticised non-governmental organisations, who he said had continued to create false expectations that some such alternative existed.