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Big boost for global trade

WTO chief Roberto Azevedo (centre) at Nusa Dua in Bali on Saturday. (Reuters)

Nusa Dua, Dec. 7 (Reuters): The World Trade Organisation reached its first-ever trade reform deal on Saturday to the roar of approval from nearly 160 ministers who had gathered on the Indonesian island of Bali to decide on the make-or-break agreement that could add $1 trillion to the global economy

The approval came after Cuba dropped a last-gasp threat to veto the package of measures.

“For the first time in our history, the WTO has truly delivered,” WTO chief Roberto Azevedo told exhausted ministers after the talks which had dragged into an extra day on the tropical resort island.

“This time the entire membership came together. We have put the ‘world’ back in the World Trade Organisation,” he said.“We’re back in business...Bali is just the beginning.”

The talks, which had opened on Tuesday, nearly came unstuck at the last minute when Cuba suddenly refused to accept a deal that would not help pry open the US embargo of the Caribbean island, forcing negotiations to drag into Saturday morning.

Cuba later agreed on a compromise with the US.

Positive impact

A study by the Washington, D.C.-based Peterson Institute of International Economics estimated the agreement would inject $960 billion into the global economy and create 21 million jobs, 18 million of them in developing nations.

The deal slashes red tape at customs around the world, gives improved terms of trade to the poorest countries, and allows developing countries to skirt the normal rules on farm subsidies if they are trying to feed the poor.

 
 
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