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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 June 2006, 20:33 GMT 21:33 UK
Bush warns against protectionism
US President Bush during the Initiative for Global Development
Mr Bush will take his message to Europe
US President George W Bush has said World Trade Organisation talks are at a "critical moment" and called for "tough" decisions to be made.

Washington was prepared to cut all tariffs and subsidies for the so-called Doha round of talks and expected "others to do the same", said Mr Bush.

The US president also issued a warning against protectionism.

If the US became a protectionist nation, reducing poverty would be "much harder", Mr Bush said.

The Doha Development Round of trade talks, which started in 2001, is intended to give poor countries a greater share in the world trading system by opening up agricultural markets in Western nations.

Deadline

"It is tough sledding right now," Mr Bush said during the Initiative for Global Development's annual conference in Washington.

The meeting is intended to encourage private and public players to cooperate in fighting poverty.

The comments come as a deadline for WTO members to reach a decision within the Doha round is fast approaching.

Director general of the WTO, Pascal Lamy, has said countries must agree on basic terms for resolving farm subsidies and cutting manufacturing tariffs by 30 June.

The WTO had hoped to agree proposals to cut farm and industrial goods tariffs by the end of April, but failed to do so.

Back then both the EU and the US said the other side had not gone far enough on agricultural liberalisation.

In saying that the US was prepared to cut all subsidies, tariffs and "other barriers to free flow of goods and services", Mr Bush has touched on an issue that has long caused disagreements between Washington and the EU.

"Countries in Europe have to make a tough decision on farming, and the G-20 have to make a tough decision on manufacturing, and the US is prepared to make a tough decision along with them. That's my message to the world," said Mr Bush.

He said he would bring this message to next week's joint US-EU summit, which is taking place in Vienna.


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