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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 August 2004, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
World trade deal gets thumbs-up
Copy of the agreement
The compromise deal crowned a marathon session
There has been a broad welcome around the world for a framework accord designed to liberalise global trade.

The breakthrough was reached after five days of tough negotiations at the World Trade Organization in Geneva.

The deal, approved by all 147 members, will cut rich countries' farm subsidies in return for developing countries opening markets for manufactured goods.

WTO Director General Supachai Panitchpakdi called it a "minor triumph", which left much to be done.

The agreement puts the so-called Doha trade round back on track, after similar talks in Cancun ended in deadlock last September.

The major triumph would be the day that we successfully complete the Doha development agenda
Supachai Panitchpakdi
WTO Director General

US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said the deal was "a crucial step for world trade".

And for France, the biggest beneficiary of EU agricultural subsidies, Agriculture Minister Herve Gaymard said it "consolidated" the European common agricultural policy without questioning earlier reforms.

France has been highly critical of moves to cut support for farmers.

No rest

A small group of African countries claimed a major breakthrough on cotton - their key agricultural product.

KEY POINTS
Tractor
Farm export subsidies scrapped - but no timeframe set
Stricter rules on state aid for rural development
Developing countries to cut tariffs for industrial goods
Customs procedures to be simplified

But WTO Director General Supachai Panitchpakdi made clear much remained to be done.

"Multilateralism has certainly made a minor triumph," he said.

"The major triumph would be the day that we successfully complete the Doha development agenda."

The ambassador to Geneva for the West African state of Benin said the Geneva agreement was "a first step in a good direction".

China's ambassador, for his part, merely said the deal was "not bad", adding that developing countries were "not fully satisfied".

The agreement leaves many the details to be hammered out - which the BBC's John Moylan in Geneva says could take at least another couple of years.

Concerns

Japanese Foreign Minister Yokiro Kawaguchi said the move included "the elements needed to bring about a balanced final agreement", adding that Japan would make its case on behalf of its farmers in future talks. Switzerland too said it was concerned about the removal of subsidies for some of their agricultural producers.

"The liberalisation process will put additional economic pressure on our farmers," said Swiss President and Economics Minister Joseph Deiss.

But he welcomed the plan nonetheless as a "key step for the opening of the world economy".

According to the World Bank, a final deal could add $520bn (280bn; 420bn euros) to the world economy by 2015, if rich and developing countries cut their tariffs.

Most of the benefit would go to poorer countries, the World Bank believes.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The BBC's Hywel Jones
"It might be the beginning of the end for farming subsidies"



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