Negotiations over a wine and spirits registry at the World Trade Organisation are deadlocked and it now looks highly unlikely that the list will be agreed by trade ministers in Cancun next month.

This downbeat assessment follows a meeting of WTO members earlier this month which officials said was inconclusive "as no country showed any flexibility."

The European Commission is seeking a binding and exact register of wine and spirits to provide legal protection for famous names like Bordeaux, Chablis and Champagne against their use by producers outside the EU. But the US, Australia and others insist the register should be little more than a kind of wine directory.

The EU has come under attack for allegedly seeking "more than is mandated by the Doha trade declaration." The US, Chile, Argentina and others are insisting that if negotiations over the register are extended it should be on the basis of the narrow remit agreed in the Doha statement.