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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005, 22:10 GMT 23:10 UK
Bush call to end trade barriers
George W Bush
Bush says he is committed to seeing the end of subsidies
President George W Bush has renewed his pledge that the US will abolish all trade tariffs if others do the same.

His comments came as US trade representative Rob Portman and European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson meet for fresh trade talks.

The two are trying to come to agreement on abolishing agricultural subsidies.

The US and Europe's failure to reach agreement on agriculture is the main sticking point which has delayed a wider, new worldwide trade deal.

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The World Trade Organisation (WTO) hopes the so-called Doha series of trade talks can be successfully concluded at its forthcoming ministerial meeting in Hong Kong in December.

The aim is to deliver a new global deal on free trade by 2006.

Yet the Doha round of talks - which first started in 2001 - have already missed one deadline, mainly due to the ongoing inability of the US and Europe to reach agreement over agriculture.

'Ending poverty'

Both President Bush and WTO director-general Pascal Lamy have called for the US and Europe to secure a deal by the end of the year.

US Trade Representative Rob Portman (left) and EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson
Europe and the US have so far failed to reach agreement on agricultural subsidies

"We must work together in the Doha (WTO) negotiations to eliminate agricultural subsidies that distort trade and stunt development, and to eliminate tariffs and other barriers to open markets for farmers around the world," said President Bush.

"Today, I broaden the challenge by making this pledge: The United States is ready to eliminate all tariffs and subsidies and other barriers to the free flow of goods and services as other nations do the same.

"The elimination of trade barriers could lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty over the next 15 years."

Mr Mandelson agrees that agreement between the US and Europe is vital.

"If we cannot agree on basic approaches then nothing will happen. It's as simple as that," he said.

Mr Portman said last week that he will press Mr Mandelson for greater compromise from the EU on farm subsidies.

"We are at the point where we can no longer procrastinate and hope for the best in Hong Kong," he added.

No details were immediately following Mr Portman and Mr Mandelson's Wednesday discussions.




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