World trade deal welcomed
By Honor Mahony
After five long days of negotiation, trade talks on Sunday (2 August) came to an end with an agreement on further liberalisation of world trade.
Representatives from the 147 countries of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), approved a framework agreement which sets the target of eliminating or reducing subsidies.
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The main focus of the agreement is the cutting of agricultural subsidies and other aid to farmers from rich countries in return for developing countries opening markets for manufactured goods.
The agreement also means that the so-called Doha round of trade talks is back on track after talks collapsed in Cancun last year.
Welcoming the breakthrough, EU trade commissioner Pascal Lamy said "today's decision shows that the multilateral trading system is alive and kicking. But we have only walked half of the way: we need now to rapidly conclude this round".
"We have agreed to make historic reforms in global agricultural trade," said US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.
Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim said "it's a good deal for trade liberalisation and it is also a good deal for social justice, with liberalisation and social justice coming together in the elimination of subsidies".
Still much to come
However, the Doha round still has to be completed, and while the agreement itself is a breakthrough, several years of tough negotiations are still likely to come.
This point was acknowledged by WTO Director General Supachai Panitchpakdi who said "Multilateralism has certainly made a minor triumph".
"The major triumph would be the day that we successfully complete the Doha development agenda".
Still others are not happy with the agreement at all.
"If the WTO proceeds on the course just laid out, these negotiations will pose a serious threat to people and the environment around the world", said David Waskow of Friends of the Earth US.
The organisation said that the deal had been reached after rich countries put intense pressure on developing countries.