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A new milestone for global trade

Updated: 2013-12-18 08:17
By Xu Hongcai ( China Daily)

Dec 7, 2013 is a date destined to go down in history, as the Bali Package marked a concrete step forward in the Doha Round of World Trade Organization trade talks. The last-minute deal came after tense overnight talks that extended the end of the WTO's 9th Ministerial Conference from Friday afternoon to Saturday morning.

After more than a decade of negotiations and missed deadlines, the WTO has finally achieved a breakthrough in its marathon trade-liberalization negotiations. Now there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel, people may regain their confidence in the WTO multilateral trade system.

Disputes between the developed and developing economies are the reason the WTO multilateral trade framework has failed to deliver on its promise up to now. To be more specific, the advanced economies have usually chosen to ignore the reasonable appeals of the emerging economies. In particular, the developed countries have refused to make concessions to the demands of the least developed countries. For instance, the issue of agricultural export subsidies in developed countries and the national food security issue for developing economies were both tough topics negotiated at the conference.

The Bali Package this time has made a breakthrough in three major areas. First, the agreement has simplified the trade process and made customs clearance quicker. Second, the agreement gave consideration to the national food security issue that is a major concern of many developing economies and reached a consensus on quota management. Third, a series of preferential policies are provided for those least developed countries when they export their goods to developed countries.

In order to reach an agreement, all parties have made some concessions this time, which has laid a solid foundation for moving forward. Since the global economy seems to be slowly recovering, such a promising outcome can provide new boost for sustainable global economic growth.

Globalization is generally thought to refer to trade liberalization and investment facilitation, but this is too narrow, and it should encompass "open, fair and impartial" global rules and balanced global development as well.

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