31, 2004 -- CropChoice news -- NAOMI KOPPEL, Associated
Press: World Trade Organization members approved
a plan Sunday to end export subsidies on farm products
and cut import duties across the world, a key step toward
a comprehensive global accord that has been discussed
since 2001, trade officials said.
The deal was approved by a consensus of the 147-nation
body shortly after midnight, opening the way for full
negotiations to start in September.
"Developed countries have recognized that agricultural
trade with a heavy subsidy component is not free trade,"
Indian Trade Minister Kamal Nath said.
But Nath said the United States, European Union and
other developed countries also will benefit by removing
heavy agricultural subsidies from their budgets.
"It is incredibly important for Canada and for
the world," Canadian Trade Minister Jim Peterson
said. "We have a historic opportunity to get rid
of agricultural subsidies and open up the world, particularly
the developing world."
Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said the framework
was "a good deal for everybody."
"It's a good deal for trade liberalization. It
is also a good deal for social justice ... with the
elimination of subsidies," Amorim said.
The approval followed a breakthrough earlier Saturday
when some 20 key countries approved a document setting
out the framework for a legally binding treaty, WTO
spokesman Keith Rockwell said.
The document commits nations to lowering import duties
and reducing government support in the three major areas
of international trade — industrial goods, agriculture
and service industries such as telecommunications and
The deal will set back in motion the long-stalled "round"
of trade liberalization treaty talks launched by WTO
members in Doha, Qatar, in 2001, but delayed by the
collapse of the body's ministerial meeting in Cancun,
Mexico, last year.