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WTO Negotiators Reach Tentative Agreement


Negotiators at the World Trade Organization conference in Hong Kong have reached a tentative agreement to boost free trade and slowly eliminate farm export subsidies.

The draft accord says wealthy countries will drop agricultural export subsidies by 2013. Subsidies by wealthy nations to their farmers make it difficult for farmers in poorer countries to market their goods around the world.

Wealthy nations also promised nearly tariff-free and subsidy-free trade for the world's poorest nations. Tariffs and quotas will start to be removed in 2008, or after an overall WTO agreement is completed.

The European Union negotiator, Peter Mandelson, said the agreement was "acceptable" and would save the trade negotiations, but was not a complete success. European countries are among those that pay large subsidies to their farmers.

A VOA correspondent at the talks reports that Brazil's foreign minister Celso Amorim and India's trade minister Kamal Nath say the latest draft of the WTO agreement appeared reasonable. India and Brazil are highly influential members among
developing nations.

The draft must still be formally approved by the 149 WTO member nations and territories.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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