No WTO deal on agriculture seen imminent: Australia
Thursday, 31 January 2008

Agence France-Presse . Geneva

Australia's trade minister said Monday that despite 'positive' talks on the Doha trade round at the Davos World Economic Forum no deal on agriculture seemed imminent.

'It was a positive outcome from Davos, I think it did surprise people,' Simon Crean told journalists on a visit to World Trade Organisation headquarters in Geneva. But he added that he 'wouldn't like to predict that we're close to a deal on agriculture.'

'Let's just see how the next couple of months unfold,' the newly-appointed Labor Party minister said. Swiss finance minister Doris Leuthard hosted a lunch for some 20 trade ministers during last week's Davos forum, after which she said a ministerial conference was likely in April to hammer out details of a deal on opening up trade in farm and industrial products.

Agriculture is a crucial element in the WTO's Doha round of talks, which aim to cut barriers and spur development but which have been mired in deadlock and disagreement since their launch back in November 2001.

Developing and emerging nations are seeking cuts in rich country farm subsidies and in import tariffs for agricultural produce, while industralised nations want better access to markets in poorer economies for their manufactured goods in return.

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