12/07/13 - Fox News - Deal to boost global trade reached at WTO summit
BALI, Indonesia - A deal to boost global trade has been approved by the
World Trade Organization's 159 member economies for the first time in
nearly two decades, keeping alive the possibility that a broader agreement
to create a level playing field for rich and poor countries can be reached
in the future.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo shed tears during the summit's closing
ceremony Saturday as he thanked host nation Indonesia and his wife.
"For the first time in history, the WTO has finally delivered" on large
scale negotiations, he said.
Trade ministers had come to the four-day WTO meeting on the resort island
of Bali with little hope that an agreement would be reached.
The talks were threatened at the eleventh hour when Cuba objected to
removal of a reference to the decades-long U.S. trade embargo that Cuba
India had also been an obstacle because of its vociferous objections to
provisions that might endanger grain subsidies aimed at ensuring its poor
get enough to eat. WTO members gave developing nations a temporary
dispensation from subsidy limits, shelving the issue for negotiations at a
The centerpiece of the agreement reached in Bali was measures to ease
barriers to trade by simplifying customs procedures and making them more
The deal could boost global trade by $1 trillion over time and also keeps
alive 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.
"The WTO has re-established its credibility as an indispensable forum for
trade negotiations. Nor is this a paper victory: Streamlining the passage
of goods across borders by cutting red tape and bureaucracy could boost the
world economy," the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in a statement.
The idea behind the WTO is that if all countries play by the same trade
rules, then all countries, rich or poor, will benefit.
But some critics say WTO rules may hinder countries from setting their own
priorities in environmental protection, worker rights, food security and
other areas. And they say sudden reductions in import tariffs can wipe out
industries, causing job losses in rich and poor countries.
The WTO was formed in January 1995 after the Uruguay Round trade
negotiations spanning 1986-1994 were completed. Apart from being a forum
for world trade talks, the organization arbitrates trade disputes between
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