Trade agreement in view after talks extended: WTO spokesman

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Delegates attending the ninth ministerial meeting of World Trade Organization (WTO MC9) appear to have agreed a draft package aimed at boosting trade and development in a weary final meeting on Friday, WTO spokesperson Keith Rockwell said.

"The reception of the text was enormously favorable. Froman and Sharma were embracing each other. People were cheering and they were clapping," Rockwell told reporters, referring to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Indian Trade and Industry Minister Anand Sharma.

He was describing the scenes in the ministerial meeting presided over by WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo and WTO MC9 chairman and Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan.

Due to the hard negotiations, the final ministerial meeting ended hours after the scheduled closing ceremony time of 3 p.m. local time.

The four-day meeting that began on Tuesday was heavily focused on India's defiance on food security, as well as disputes over export subsidies and a proposed review of government purchase reference prices, which date from 1986-1988..

The demands were opposed by the developed countries group led by the United States.

Negotiations to reach a compromise were actively brokered by Azevedo and Wirjawan, reports said.

Rockwell said the final meeting was marred by tension when the Cuban minister tried to take the floor to protest the lack of any references to the U.S. embargo on her country.

During the meeting, delegates agreed on an interim solution to food security issues until a permanent solution is found, and, provided that the conditions were met, members would refrain from challenging through the WTO Dispute Settlement mechanism.

Rockwell said that the closing ceremony of the conference was rescheduled for early Saturday, and Azevedo and Wirjawan would deliver a press conference afterwards. Endi

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