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Lamy appreciates nation's support for poor countries
By Liu Dai (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-12-16 06:04

HONG KONG: The Chinese commerce minister had a hectic day of meetings yesterday as negotiators from 150 WTO member economies were locked in closed-door bilateral or multilateral meetings in a bid to break a deadlock on key issues.

Among the people Bo Xilai met were WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, Brazilian Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade Luiz Fernando Furlan and Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshihiro Nikai.

Lamy appreciated China's stance on such topics as non-agriculture market access and support to the least developed countries (LDCs); and urged the nation to play a more active role in the current talks.

China supports immediate duty-free and quota-free market access to LDCs and has urged that developing countries be given special treatment when they open their markets.

The Chinese delegation also participated in discussions of the G20 and G33 groups of developing countries and conducted multilateral negotiations on issues including non-agricultural market access, services trade and special treatment for new members.

Chinese Agricultural Minister Du Qinglin flew into Hong Kong last night to join the negotiations.

With members remaining split on agricultural issues, developed and developing countries failed to move forward on the contentious issues of farm subsidies and industrial tariffs on the third day of the Sixth WTO ministerial meeting.

The European Union and the United States continued their blame-game. US Trade Representative Rob Portman urged the EU to present a more attractive offer in cutting farm subsidies but EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said the US blocked EU's proposals to give duty-free and quota-free access to the poorest countries. The latter also said the trade bloc would not offer new concessions.

Portman said there was a need to take tough decisions to make the Doha Development Agenda worth the name. "If we cannot make progress here at Hong Kong, which we won't, we must set a date before we leave and set a work programme. We need to roll up our sleeves and take tough decisions to make progress," he told reporters.

The World Bank yesterday also urged developed members to offer more trade opportunities to the developing ones.

(China Daily 12/16/2005 page2)

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