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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 July 2007, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
US issues warning on trade deal
US trade representative Susan Schwab
Trade talks risk going into hibernation, Ms Schwab has said
The US has warned that a world trade deal could be stalled for years if no progress is made by the end of 2007.

US trade secretary Susan Schwab told an Apec meeting that time was running out to breathe life back into the talks.

Asia-Pacific nations are meeting in Australia, the first major meeting of trade ministers to take place since trade talks collapsed again in June.

Australian trade minister Warren Truss said the failed Doha round negotiations would be high on the Apec talks agenda.

"Foremost in our discussions today will be an assessment of the Doha round of negotiations and an examination of how we may be able to contribute constructively to that process," he told ministers from 21 nations at the meeting.

Criticism

US trade representative Susan Schwab added that Apec - whose members account for almost 60% of the world's gross domestic product - could play a key part in reviving world trade talks.

"I think there is a sense that if we don't get it done this year, Doha could well go into hibernation for several years to come," Ms Schwab told reporters.

"There are some countries who really don't want a Doha round outcome. I think that's unfortunate."

Experts viewed her comments as a veiled attack on India and Brazil for not working in the best interests of developing nations, after the latest round of trade talks collapsed amid acrimony in Germany.

The so-called G4 - the US, European Union, India and Brazil - failed to agree how much support the US and EU should give to their farmers and how much developing nations should open up to agricultural and manufacturing imports.

Commitment

However, on the eve of the Apec meeting, EU president Jose Manuel Barroso and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva offered a glimmer of hope for a prospective trade pact following talks in Portugal.

The pair said they wanted to save the Doha round and shared a commitment to restarting the stalled global trade talks.

The Doha round of talks - named after the Qatari capital where discussions started in 2001 - have been repeatedly delayed because of continuing disagreements.

A key meeting in Hong Kong in December 2005 that was due to have established the final agreement ended in failure, and negotiations have drifted since then, despite a series of follow-up talks.

Advocates of a trade deal say it would help end poverty in developing countries, while rich countries could also benefit if they can sell more goods and services abroad.




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