THE EU wanted a broad round of trade talks to start in Seattle, covering things like investment, competition, negotiations on all sorts of traded goods and services. America wanted a short set of talks. Other countries varied. A compromise seems likely.

Agriculture: The EU has agreed to further cuts in domestic support and export subsidies; the US and the Cairns Group (farm exporting countries) have agreed that agriculture is a special case. The deal was close to completion last night.

Labour Standards: The US was still struggling with developing countries last night over regulations to link labour rules to trade. The developing world rejects this, and it was hard to see how the two could be reconciled.

Biotechnology: America wanted a new trade panel to rule on how biotechnology products, especially GM foods, could be traded. Europe agreed in turn for concessions on other environmental issues. But it wants to be able to block imports if it fears health or environmental problems. Very much up in the air.

Poor Countries: The EU had been pressing for the removal of all duties on imports from developing nations, and the US and Japan looked ready to sign up for it. But the deal is in trouble over the issue of exemptions.