China trade meet set to energise negotiations

Agence France Presse

Geneva, July 10:

A group of key World Trade Organisation (WTO) members is set to meet this week in China to energise negotiations on liberalising global commerce which have stumbled amid north-south splits over agriculture. The goal at the July 12-13 meeting in Dalian is to sketch out an accord ahead of a WTO summit in Hong Kong in December, in order to complete the negotiations in 2006. It will be China’s highest-level WTO meeting since it joined the world body in 2001. Some 32 trade ministers are set to take part, out of the WTO’s full membership

of 148. “The Dalian meet is going to be very important in setting the tone for our wo-rk over the next few months and for increasing the cha-nces of success in Hong Ko-ng,” said Taiwan’s

trade ambassador Lin Yi-fu. The Do-ha Round of talks aims to expand free trade in a way that benefits poor nations.Developing countries are pushing for an end to farm subsidies in rich countries, which they say have ruined their agricultural sector. Industrialised nations have been unwilling to budge without concessions in other areas, particularly services and trade in goods. There have also been spats among wealthy nations with differing commercial interests.