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WTO Regrouping Over Global Trade Deal  08/01 06:17

   The World Trade Organization began regrouping Friday to see whether it is 
still possible to finalize a major deal to boost global trade after a deadline 
passed to formally adopt it.

   GENEVA (AP) -- The World Trade Organization began regrouping Friday to see 
whether it is still possible to finalize a major deal to boost global trade 
after a deadline passed to formally adopt it.

   The preliminary deal approved by the organization at a WTO summit last 
December in Bali was estimated to increase world trade by $1 trillion over 
time. The centerpiece of the eleventh-hour deal was an agreement on measures to 
ease barriers to trade by simplifying customs procedures and making them more 
transparent.

   But difficult topics of agriculture, market access and services were left 
unfinished in that deal and WTO members had been due to finalize the terms 
before Friday.

   Key disagreements included India's demand for exemptions to its broad 
government food subsidies to its farmers and poor consumers that have allegedly 
undercut fair-market agriculture prices. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and 
Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker traveled to India where they met Thursday 
with government officials to try to salvage a deal.

   The deadline's passing left the Geneva-based organization's 159 member 
economies scrambling to figure out what they could do next.

   "The fact we do not have a conclusion means that we are entering a new phase 
in our work - a phase which strikes me as being full of uncertainties," WTO 
Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in a statement addressed to member 
countries.

   "We have a natural hiatus in our calendar as people leave for the summer 
break in the coming days," he said. "So I invite you all to use this time to 
think carefully about what the next steps might be. I urge you to reflect long 
and hard on the ramifications of this setback."


(KA)


 
 
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