INDONESIA- Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has prodded top trade officials from 159 countries to produce a deal that would end over a decade of stalled efforts to free up global trade, as they gathered in Bali's Nusa Dua enclave for the start of this week's World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial conference.
Negotiators are nail-bitingly close to agreeing on a "Bali package" that would revive the deadlocked Doha Round of talks started in Qatar 12 years ago, and add an estimated US$1 trillion (S$1.26 trillion) a year to a struggling global economy.
Yet the outstanding issues are so intractable that many remain pessimistic about getting a deal at all.
Not the hosts, however, who stressed that much more than just the WTO's credibility and relevance was at stake.
A breakthrough, Dr Yudhoyono said, would reinvigorate global trade and make the world economy fairer and more inclusive.
"Failure is not an option," said Dr Yudhoyono, adding that trade was a critical part of the global effort to wipe out poverty. He called on officials to exercise flexibility and creativity in finding solutions to the impasse.
"You have made more progress than many critics of the WTO thought possible... We cannot afford to let our hard-fought gains fade away," he added.
The hosts have made the dress code for the meetings batik or smart casual, and are hoping this will make it easier for officials to seal a deal.