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Azevedo: APEC meet could help WTO trade deal
October 6, 2013, 6:10 am

Azevedo is pushing to break the deadlock on a deal that could add hundreds of billions of dollars to the world economy as well as open up for wider trade reform [Getty Images]

Azevedo is pushing to break the deadlock on a deal that could add hundreds of billions of dollars to the world economy as well as open up for wider trade reform [Getty Images]

The new Brazilian head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) said Saturday in Bali that he is hopeful the 2013 APEC meetings will help bring consensus for the WTO’s first global deal in nearly two decades ahead of a critical December deadline.

WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo stressed world leaders would have to move quickly.

“If the WTO with the help of APEC sees what is at stake then they will achieve it. We all know that we cannot do all this between now and December. What I am positive of is that if we have a positive outcome in Bali then we can impact the Doha round and perhaps beyond that as well,” Azevedo said.

Azevedo said in Bali that ambassadors of WTO’s 159 members have been holding discussions in Geneva but talks till now have been more political than trade based.

Azevedo is pushing to break the deadlock on a deal that could add hundreds of billions of dollars to the world economy as well as open up for wider trade reform.

The WTO trade facilitation deal would cut trade costs by 10 per cent for developed countries and by 14 per cent for developing countries.

A critical angle of the deal concerns food security, allowing developing countries to break the agreed WTO limits on agricultural subsidies while stockpiling staple crops.

Azevedo has appealed to Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma for a “political momentum” for successful outcome of the forthcoming Bali meet of the multilateral body.

In a letter to Sharma, he said: “There is a need for direct and personal involvement of (Trade) Ministers so that we can craft an acceptable Bali outcome”.

India wants consensus on the G33′s food security deal at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Bali ministerial. The G33 is a group of emerging nations.

India has been demanding some of the subsidies given as part of the procurement for public stockholding from poor and marginal farmers shouldn’t be regarded as a ‘prohibited subsidy’ by the WTO. Currently, these are prohibited under WTO norms.

An agreement on this proposal is crucial for India, as 99 per cent of its farmers fall under the ‘low-income or resource-poor’ category and the country has recently brought in the world’s largest food subsidy program to feed its poor.

Azevedo and Indian Commerce Minister Sharma are now slated to meet on Monday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday afternoon arrived in the Indonesian resort island of Bali to attend the meet, while US President Barack Obama is staying away to deal with the debt crisis and government shutdown at home.

The WTO has consistently disagreed to new global trade agreements since it was founded in 1995.

Azevedo wants the structure of the deal locked down by October so that there is enough time for a reform package to be penned and signed by trade ministers in time for a December meeting in Bali.

“The WTO is a lot about momentum and about getting the right environment for negotiations. The big players are here and they are talking about what will happen two months from now. If we can maintain this level of engagement and talking to non-APEC members as well this will be an interesting contribution to the negotiations in December.”

APEC’s 21 member economies account for almost 2.8 billion people and over half of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

 

Source: Agencies

 

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