Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organisation has proposed a fresh meeting within the next few weeks to solve the problems that stymied the last talks in July. It sounds as though he wouldn't be doing this unless he had already largely negotiated the issue at stake — the degree to which developing countries can raise agricultural tariffs in an emergency.
There is another factor that, perversely, might accelerate a deal - the enveloping world financial crisis. There is nothing like a global crisis to concentrate the mind. It surely shouldn't be difficult for governments that are rescuing their biggest corporations on a daily basis to jump the last fence in the protracted race to boost developing countries by abolishing unfair western subsidies that pevent them operating on a level playing field.