The 132 member nations of the World Trade Organisation yesterday agreed to work on preparing for a new round of talks for the millennium, and begin ensuring that electronic commerce over the Internet remains free of tariffs and duties. Trade ministers have agreed to meet in the United States next year, when they hope to define the future landscape of international trade. After a US proposal, the WTO also agreed to freeze the imposition of any duties on electronic commerce as of today. This decision is likely to be reviewed at the next ministerial meeting in October or November. A work programme has also been established, but bowing to developing country concerns, ministers have agreed to take into account their economic, financial and development needs. Yesterday, trade diplomats confirmed that in the Ministerial Declaration ending the meeting, coded language had been agreed upon which would allow countries to take face-saving positions on starting a new round, but would commit to 'sufficiently broad-based' future talks. Trade ministers have agreed that work should begin in September, and will cover services, intellectual property rights and agriculture. However, it remains open to potentially more contentious areas. These could include linking trade with working conditions, potential damage to the environment, as well as investments and competition policy. Under heavy pressure from developing countries, the Ministerial Declaration also committed itself to a 'full and faithful implementation' of previous WTO agreements, in recognition of statements on the non-realisation of the full benefits of such agreements. Hong Kong has led calls for speedier changes to the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, which commits to a phased reduction of quotas. However, some countries said this had not seen a swift removal of trade barriers. While the developing world seeks to play a greater role in WTO decision-making, which it says has been concentrated in the developed countries for too long, the Ministerial Declaration ensures that the WTO will respond to 'particular trade interests and development needs of developing-country members'. It welcomed work already being done in the WTO, but accepted the urgent need for the 'effective implementation' of these provisions.