WTO trade deal makes progress
BALI, Indonesia – A possible World Trade Organization deal moved closer to approval Friday after a row over food subsidies was set aside following hours of global negotiations that went late into the night.
Trade ministers had come to the four-day WTO meetings on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali with little hope that a slimmed-down agreement would be reached, with India refusing to budge on a provision that could endanger subsidies for grains under a policy to feed its poor.
But a draft proposal released late Friday to be decided on by the ministers put the subsidy issue on the backburner, allowing it to be taken up at a later point and opening room for consensus. The proposal also would simplify customs procedures.
India Trade Minister Anand Sharma said he endorses the draft proposal.
“This is a decision which is historic, and it will resonate in all continents,” he said.
The deal could boost global trade by $1 trillion and help revive the WTO’s broader Doha Round of trade negotiations, sometimes known as the development round because of sweeping changes in regulations, taxes and subsidies that would benefit low income countries.