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Historic trade package sealed at WTO Bali meeting
The 159-member World Trade Organization (WTO) has on Saturday reached a breakthrough in its multilateral trade negotiation by sealing its first-ever trade package at its ninth ministerial meeting after four Latin American countries gave up rejection to the package.
Gita Wirjawan, chairman of the ministerial conference and Indonesia's trade minister, announced the adoption of a ministerial declaration and "the full Bali package" at the closing ceremony, which marked a historic progress for the 12-year-long Doha Round trade talk.
"For the first time in our history, the WTO has truly delivered, " said WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo, who was almost in tears upon the hard-won success.
The adoption of the package came after extended overnight talks as Cuba and three other Latin American members threw a last-minute rejection to the package due to removal of a paragraph regarding the roll back of the U.S. trade embargo against its Caribbean neighbor, which sent the meeting into an unscheduled fifth day.
The decisions at the meeting are "important stepping stones to the completion of the Doha Development Round," said Azevedo, who has been urging all-out efforts to ensure a successful outcome in Bali since taking up his position in September.
"It always seems impossible until it's done," both Azevedo and Gita cited quotes from Nelson Mendela, the former South African leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner who has just passed away at the age of 95, since "the Bali package may have been seen impossible, but now it's done."
Launched in 2001, the Doha Round talk, or the Doha Development Agenda, targeted at helping poor nations prosper through free global trade and has been long-stalled over wide disparity in opinions between developed economies and developing ones.
The package has covered four progresses in the Doha Round talks, or the Doha Development Agenda, including trade facilitation, agriculture, cotton production, as well as development and issues of Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
The package would boost the world economy by the equivalent of 1 trillion U.S. dollars a year, according to Azevedo.
"People all around the world will benefit from the package the WTO delivered today, especially the poor, the unemployed and the vulnerable," he said at a press conference after the meeting closed.
The package has also instructed that a clearly defined work program on the remaining Doha Development Agenda issues shall be prepared within the next 12 months, according to Azevedo.
"This package is not an end, it is a beginning," he said.
[Source: Xinhua, Bali, Indonesia, 07Dec13]
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