18 September 2003, Rome -- After the failure of the world trade talks in Cancún, FAO today urged countries to consider seriously informal contacts with a view to returning to the negotiation table, with a better outcome this time.

"The collapse of the WTO meeting in Cancún should not be the end of trade talks in an international framework," FAO said.

"Much is at stake for developed and developing countries regarding a level playing field in world trade. It is time for governments to recognise that a fair and open multilateral trading system is in the social and economic interests of their entire societies, rich and poor alike," FAO said.

"If we want to improve the living conditions of millions of people in developing countries and reduce the number of more than 800 million chronically hungry people, these countries need investment to improve their productive capacity and competitivity, but also a better chance to sell their products on the world market."

FAO called it "regrettable" that in Cancún countries could not find a fair agreement on agricultural trade issues.

"There are no viable alternatives to the multilateral trade talks, and when the psychological constraints of the forthcoming national political events are removed, countries should consider returning to the negotiating table before the momentum is lost," the agency said.
Erwin Northoff
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570 53105