World Trade Organisation ministers have adopted a final draft of an agreement for the 150 member state body. After a gruelling six days of hard bargaining, ministers formally endorsed the Hong Kong trade deal much to the relief of WTO chief Pascal Lamy: “This week has shown us that when there is a common will there is a common way.” The pact has been described as modest and as a compromise, but it does pave the way for a wider global free trade treaty in 2006.
Here are some of its main points: The text sets an end date of 2013 for rich nations’ farm export subsidies – they are to be phased out progressively. Developed WTO countries have agreed to end all export subsidies on cotton by 2006. By 2008 the poorest countries will get quota-free and duty free access for 97 percent of their goods. EU trade Minister Peter Mandelson says the deal is acceptable: “I am satisfied with the draft with the outcome of this meeting, to be honest this is not what I wanted, with every respect i feel the ambition is too low, I think people haven’t taken enough risks, unlike Europe, we at least took our responsibilities this week. Brazil had been one of the key objectors to certain aspects of the pact, but Foreign Minister Celso Amerim also cautiously welcomed the deal. “I think that what is in the document I would qualify as modest but not insignificant.” The issue of agriculture had risked scuppering the accord with G20 developing nations frustrated at the EU’s refusal to agree to a 2010 subsidy cut off date. But though that was resolved, most agree the deal is limited and that other key areas still need to be addressed.