New world trade proposals welcomed by New Zealand

July 19, 2007 - 0:0

WELLINGTON (AFP) -- Reaction to new proposals aimed at cutting agriculture protection will show whether there is any real chance of sealing a world trade deal this year, New Zealand Trade Minister Phil Goff said on Wednesday.

The chief negotiators at the World Trade Organization in Geneva Tuesday proposed sharp cuts in U.S. farm support and emerging country industrial import duties in an attempt to break the deadlock in the Doha round of trade talks. The new proposals were a necessary and welcome next step in the Doha negotiations, Goff said. ""All countries know now what is on offer in these negotiations and what we risk if we fail to conclude the round,"" he said in a statement. ""Reactions to these papers will tell us whether there is a real chance of a WTO deal this year. ""Everyone will have to be prepared to compromise."" The new proposals call for cuts in U.S. agricultural support to below 16.2 billion dollars a year, compared to 19 billion dollars allowed now, and reductions in industrial tariffs imposed by developing nations to less than 23 percent, officials said. The proposals are aimed at ending nearly six years of deadlock in the Doha round launched in the Qatari capital in 2001 and at brokering a compromise among the 150 WTO members. Emerging countries want the U.S. and EU to offer greater cuts to agriculture subsidies and quotas while developed countries want big reductions in tariffs on industrial goods and more open trade in services. Goff said the new proposals showed the differences between different countries were narrow but significant. He said New Zealand, a major agriculture exporter, was seeking an ambitious deal which promised real new trade flows