Commerce ministers from 32 countries appear to be making progress at a crucial meeting on trade in the northern Chinese city of Dalian. Europe and the US have welcomed a proposal by developing countries on cutting farm import tariffs. That is essential to a future trade deal that could lift tens of millions of people out of poverty. The farm import tariff problem centres on subsidies the world’s richest countries pay to their farmers. The poor countries say that deprives them of the chance to sell their agricultural produce in world markets.
The European Union, the US and others have said they are now moving close to getting access to the developing countries for their goods and services in exchange for ending the agriculture subsidies. The aim of this gathering is to get some agreement ahead of a full World Trade Organisation meeting in Hong Kong in December. EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson is optimistic about those talks. He said: “I think that there is a fair amount of consensus to be achieved on outstanding issues. But it does require movement by everyone. Everyone has to take their share of the heavy lifting. Everyone has issues on which they are defensive, where it is difficult for them to make a move, but if we do it together, it makes it easier.”