The ski slopes of Davos in Switzerland are witnessing a melting of hard line attitudes against agriculture reform as trade ministers make a final attempt to get agreement before time runs out. Seasons observers of trade talks have seen the waves of optimism crash so often against the rocks of self-interest that they are trying not to be too optimistic this time.
That said there does appear to be some genuine movement. Robert Zoellick, former US chief negotiator says the US should offer deeper cuts while EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson is busy droping hints that a breakthrough may happen in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile the crucial G-20 alliance of developing nations, which has India, Brazil and South Africa as key members, is seeking a steep reduction in agriculture subsidies in return for US demand for deep reduction in customs duty. My view? Clearly something ambitious is being cooked up but the chances of a beleaguered US administration and a strongly protectionist French farming lobby from rolling over are still slim. But doomsday does concentrate the mind.