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Hu calls for lifting farm trade curbs
(China Daily/Xinhua/Agencies)
Updated: 2008-07-10 09:00

Hu calls for lifting farm trade curbs
President Hu Jintao and his US counterpart George W. Bush share a light moment during a group photo session on the sidelines of the G8 Summit in Toyako, northern Japan, yesterday.  [Agencies]
Hu calls for lifting farm trade curbs

President Hu Jintao yesterday said rich countries need to do more to remove barriers on farm trade if they want to save more than 800 million people across the world from the grip of hunger.

Addressing the Group of Eight (G8) Summit on the northern island of Hokkaido, Hu said soaring food prices would increase the number of those looking hunger in the face. And this could pose a risk to global peace and prosperity.

Creating a fair and equitable trading environment for agricultural products is one way the international community could help increase food security, he said.

"All countries, the developed ones in particular, should show greater sincerity in the Doha agricultural negotiations, remove trade barriers, be flexible over issues such as cutting agricultural subsidies, fully consider the special concerns of the developing members, and make the least developed countries' access to markets duty-free and quota-free," Hu said.

Trade in agricultural products is one of the most contentious issues at the World Trade Organization's Doha Round of talks. Trade ministers of all the UN member countries will meet in Geneva on July 21 to seek a breakthrough after nearly seven years of negotiations.

On food prices having risen so drastically, Hu said that "to blame developing countries ... for the increase in world food demand does not tally with facts, nor is it a constructive attitude to solve the problem".

The pressing task now is to raise the level of help, support the UN in playing its coordinating role, work to stabilize food prices and help the developing countries tide over the difficulties as quickly as possible, he said.

"The international community should give priority to developing agriculture and formulating a long-term international food cooperation strategy."

China's current agricultural tariff is only a quarter of the world's average, the president said.

China feeds about 20 percent of the world's population with only about 9 percent of the world's arable land. "This is a major contribution to global food security."

In the past few decades, China has been meeting more than 95 percent of its domestic need for food. Besides, it has exported an annual average of 8 million tons of grains such as wheat, rice and corn.

Hu said developing countries should be better represented in international financial institutions for the global monetary system to run better.

China was joined at the G8 "outreach session" by India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. Three other countries, South Korea, Indonesia and Australia, will join the talks later.


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