Agriculture is key to world trade deal, say developing countries

Mumbai: Developing countries have demanded that the rich countries open up their markets for farm products for the successful conclusion of the long-running Doha Round of trade talks.

Trade talks must focus on the needs of developing countries, the poor nations said.

The rich must learn to accept what they are prepared to offer in farm trade in order to bring the faltering Doha round of talks at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to an early conclusion, they said. 

Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim said the meetings had agreed that agriculture was a central part of the Doha round, launched six years ago to open up world trade and with a specific goal of helping developing countries.

"Any attempt to change this central fact that agriculture is the locomotive of the round of course is bound to fail," he told a news conference.

The talks revolve round developing countries opening up their markets for industrial goods in return for the United States cutting farm subsidies and the European Union cutting farm tariffs.

"A conclusion of this round in the next few months would be an excellent antidote to the uncertainty in the global economy which is prevailing," said Indian Trade Minister Kamal Nath, pointing to the still unfolding credit crisis.

A successful outcome of the global trade talks would inject confidence to a world economy shaken by the credit crisis but in which developing countries have increasing weight, said the ministers and senior officials representing nearly 100 countries.