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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 September 2007, 06:07 GMT 07:07 UK
Apec tackles stalled trade talks
Apec economic leaders hold talks in Sydney
Talks have stumbled on farm subsidies and industrial tariffs
Asia-Pacific leaders have concluded a summit in Sydney with a statement that calls for a rapid conclusion to long-running global trade talks.

World trade liberalisation talks known as the Doha Round have dragged on for more than six years, and are now said to have reached a crucial stage.

The 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) account for nearly half of the world's trade.

On Saturday, leaders agreed on the need for action to tackle climate change.

China and the US - two of the world's biggest polluters - were among the nations that signed the statement announcing an "aspirational" goal to restrain the rise of greenhouse gas emissions.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard called it "a very important milestone" towards an international deal.

The declaration "is part of a process, the next element of which will be the meeting of major economies in Washington later this month, and then the United Nations meeting," he said.

Environmentalists said the declaration was merely symbolic.


The BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney says Apec's members are impatient to break the current deadlock in the Doha Round of talks.

There is a strong sense that it is a make-or-break moment. It may take a few weeks, but my sense is that there is a lot of focus and energy
WTO chief, Pascal Lamy

Negotiators have been unable to reach agreement over two main stumbling blocks - the massive agricultural subsidies given to farmers in Europe, the US and Japan, and restrictive industrial tariffs in emerging markets like China, India and Brazil.

Finance and trade ministers from Apec's member countries have already this week called for the free trade talks to be accelerated.

Now the leaders have weighed in with a statement calling for the Doha Round to enter its final phase this year.

The head of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy, has said negotiations currently taking place in Geneva may be edging closer to a deal.

"There is a strong sense that it is a make-or-break moment. It may take a few weeks, but my sense is that there is a lot of focus and energy," Mr Lamy said.

He also gave a cautious "yes" when asked if there was an emerging consensus on farm subsidies and tariffs.

The US Trade Representative, Susan Schwab, said she had detected a greater sense of urgency but also warned the talks could meander, linger and then go into hibernation.


Australian prime minister issues trade talk declaration

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07 Sep 07 |  Asia-Pacific
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07 Sep 07 |  Asia-Pacific
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