Hopes revived of WTO deal

Economics Minister Doris Leuthard has described an emerging trade deal at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as a "good compromise".

This content was published on July 26, 2008 - 10:51

Other ministers were also positive but warned in Geneva on Friday that much work was still needed to get full agreement on the delicately crafted proposal.

The optimistic tone was a remarkable turnaround from the gloom at the WTO earlier in the day, when Director-General Pascal Lamy warned that talks were on the brink of collapse because of the refusal of countries to negotiate.

Switzerland was prepared to make its contribution, Leuthard said, adding that the result was positive for the world economy and the liberalisation of markets. She admitted however that Swiss agriculture would have to pay "a high price".

Developing countries say US and European subsidies deter their own farmers from producing, contributing to the current food crisis. They also object to the high level of protection that rich country farmers enjoy.

But rich countries want improved access to the markets for industrial goods and services in emerging nations like Brazil, India and China in return for freeing up their own farm sectors.

On Saturday negotiators will also look at the prospects of liberalising services such as banking and telecoms, which will colour the outcome of the core farming and industry talks that are the focus of the current talks.

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