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Manufacturers, Exporters, Wholesalers - Global trade starts here.

6th WTO Ministerial Conference Concludes

The 6th WTO Ministerial Conference concluded in Hong Kong on Sunday with a Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration that Xinhua News Agency yesterday said included tangible results from the six-day negotiations.


After more than 100 hours' talks, the global trade body's 149 members reached an agreement to eliminate all forms of agricultural export subsidies by the end of 2013.


The declaration also said developed members will eliminate all forms of export subsidies for cotton in 2006 and implement duty-free and quota-free market access for all products from the least-developed countries (LDC) by 2008.


Chairman of the conference John Tsang said at the closing ceremony that the meeting had drawn up a "clear roadmap" for further negotiations of the Doha Round.


He said the date and venue of the 7th WTO Ministerial Conference will be determined by the WTO General Council through consultations.



WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said that thanks to intensive work "meaningful" decisions have been made that put the Doha Round back on track.


He also called for more "collective action" and "new political energy" to conclude the negotiations by the end of 2006.



Currently, 50 countries are identified by the UN as LDCs, where per capita income is below US$750 a year.


Duty-free and quota-free market access will stimulate LDCs exports, bringing them US$8 billion every year, said UN Under-Secretary-General Anwarul K. Chowdhury.  



Xinhua said a number of developing members forged a powerful alliance at the conference to fight for their own interests in agriculture, non-agricultural market access and service trade negotiations.


"For the first time in the WTO, a ministerial meeting was held between all developing countries," said a joint statement issued by the G20, the G33, African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, LDCs, the African Group and Small Economies.




The statement called for the removal of distortions that "inhibit the export growth of developing countries" and demanded an "adequate policy space" to ensure their sustainable socioeconomic development.


The conference, which opened December 13, aimed to advance the stalled Doha Round trade talks, which were launched in the Qatari capital in November 2001.


More than 5,800 delegates, 3,200 journalists and about 2,000 representatives from non-governmental organizations attended it.


(Xinhua News Agency December 19, 2005)

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