Ministers from Pacific Rim economies meeting in South Korea are urging a reduction in agricultural subsidies – a call set to irritate the EU, which stands accused of excessive protectionism.
Although the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation group stopped short of pointing the finger of blame at Europe, its draft statement said subsidies would have to be cut to break the deadlock in global trade negotiations. Speaking at the meeting, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also urged ministers to unite to counter the threats of terrorism and bird flu.
Continuing his tour of Asia, US President George W. Bush arrived in South Korea for a leaders’ summit later this week. He will then head to China, having already called on Beijing to move further to allow political and religious freedoms.
Those comments were delivered in Japan where, despite a warm official welcome, protesters poured onto the streets of Kyoto to express their opposition to the president’s visit. The presence of Japanese troops in Iraq was among the issues mobilising demonstrators.