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APEC hopes to revive stalled world trade talksnews
04 July 2007

Mumbai Trade ministers from 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies will come together in Cairns, Australia on July 5 and 6, to revive the deadlocked world trade negotiations. Ministers from countries responsible for half the world''s trade will attempt to resuscitate the so-called Doha round of trade liberalisation negotiations.

Talks among the US, EU, Brazil and India — collectively known as G4 — broke down in Potsdam, Germany, two weeks ago leaving this week''s meeting as one of the last opportunities for top commerce officials to rescue the Doha Round.

APEC ministers aim to mediate between the opposing parties and urge them to show "the necessary flexibility," in order to seal a deal before a year-end deadline, Japan''s Kyodo News said, citing a draft communiqué. The 21-member APEC group accounts for 41 per cent of the world''s population and 56 per cent of its GDP.

Talks have stalled over the failure of the US, the European Union, India , Brazil and China to open up agricultural and industrial markets and end subsidies.

While the developing nations want the EU and the US to scale back agricultural tariffs that protect their farmers, Europe and America are seeking increased access for their industrial and manufactured goods in markets like India and Brazil.

Although India , Brazil and the EU are not part of the APEC, the three along with the WTO are all likely to be represented in Cairns, APEC sources said.

The 150-member World Trade Organisation has set a 2007 deadline for the Doha Round, launched six years ago for opening market access and add hundreds of billions of dollars in global commerce and lift millions of people out of poverty.

A deal on trade and tariffs should be complete by early August to meet the 2007 deadline.

WTO rules require that all members agree to the agenda.

Meanwhile, the US has warned that stalled world trade talks could lead to countries cutting individual trade deals. Many counties were ready to turn away from world trade talks unless new negotiating texts focused on ambitious outcomes for agriculture and manufacturing, US trade representative Susan Schwab said.

New texts are being drawn up in Geneva in hopes of reviving the stalled Doha round of trade talks after the collapse of discussions in Germany between the United States , Brazil, India and Europe .

"I believe if those are low ambition texts, we''re in deep trouble in terms of the Doha round," Schwab told reporters in Cairns , ahead of a meeting of trade ministers from the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group.

"If the level of ambition is insufficient, I think a lot of countries will say ''hey I''m better off going to negotiate my bilateral and regional deals''." World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiating groups are due to release new texts on manufacturing and agriculture within two weeks as trade negotiations focus on Geneva, following the breakdown of the G4 talks in Potsdam, Germany .

Schwab''s comments will add pressure on the WTO to continue to push major developing nations like India , Brazil and China to open up their markets to agricultural and manufactured imports.

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APEC hopes to revive stalled world trade talks