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Annan urges 'determined' resumption of WTO talks

Annan urges 'determined' resumption of deadlocked world trade talks

Voicing regret at the deadlock in the latest round of world free trade talks, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on all concerned to "come back in a determined fashion" to reach an agreement within the next year or so.

"I must admit, I knew it was going to be a difficult session," Mr. Annan said of the five-day meeting of trade ministers of the 146-nation World Trade Organization (WTO), which ended yesterday in Cancún, Mexico, deadlocked over issues ranging from agricultural subsidies by rich countries to investment policies in poor countries.

"I had expected it to achieve much more than they achieved. I had hoped all along that we would try to retain some of the spirit of Doha and really try and come up with an agreement that would be beneficial to developing countries as they try to improve their own situation," he told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York, referring to the agenda adopted in 2001 in the Qatari capital in an effort to achieve freer trade.

"Well, the talks have ended. Not much was achieved, but I hope that is not the end of the road and that the parties will go back and reflect and then come back in a determined fashion to try and fashion an agreement within the next year or so," he added.

An official statement issued later by his spokesman said the Secretary-General "regrets that the ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization in Cancún was suspended without agreement, but hopes this is not the end of the road, and that the Doha Round will still deliver on its promise of greater exchange and prosperity for all, especially the developing countries.

"He also notes that for the first time the developing countries have found their collective voice in international trade negotiations and acted in concert to defend their interests, notably on the issue of agricultural protection and subsidies. He believes this is a positive development which holds great hope for the future," the statement added.


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