World Trade Organisation adopts Bali package, to move ahead on Doha round

Dec 07 2013, 14:32 IST
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World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevedo laughs during a plenary session of the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference at Nusa Dua in Bali. (Reuters) World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevedo laughs during a plenary session of the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference at Nusa Dua in Bali. (Reuters)
SummaryWTO talks nearly came unstuck at the last minute when Cuba suddenly refused to accept a deal.
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"It always seems impossible until it's done," quoting former South African President Nelson Mandela who passed away a day before, World Trade Organization (WTO) director general Roberto Azevedo described the furious negotiations over the past two days that resulted in the Bali declaration at the end of the ninth ministerial conference on Saturday morning.

Getting the first such declaration in over two decades was not easy. After India and developing nations were brought around by changes in the draft text on agriculture on Friday night, it was the turn of Cuba and Latin American countries including Nicaragua, Bolivia and Venezuela out the deal on ice in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Sources said that the concerns over the language in the trade facilitation agreement was changed to address their concerns that it did not indicate a lifting of the US embargo. The revised text was approved at a meeting of the trade ministers on Saturday 10 am (local time).

All member nations of the WTO adopted the Bali package consisting of 10 documents on trade facilitation, agriculture, cotton and development issues.

"The  package provides flexibility to developing countries on vital food security programme. We  will change the Agreement on Agriculture. In the meantime, it will allow developing nations to avoid disputes for food security," said Indonesian minister of trade Gita Wirjawan, who as the chair and host for the summit brought the conference to an end.

Addressing the closing ceremony of the summit, a visibly emotional Azevedo said, "We have brought the world back into the World Trade Organisation."

The WTO chief, who had been involved in negotiations for over 48 hours since Thursday throughout the night and days also thanked his wife with a catch in his voice and tears in his eyes.

"India has played a major role in the revival and re-energising the Doha Round of talks. The Bali declaration is a positive step," said commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma.

The Bali declaration also includes five draft agreements on TRIPS Non-violation and situation complaints, work programme on electronic commerce, work programme on small economies, aid for trade and trade and transfer of technology.

"This package is not an end but it is a beginning. We will be able to move forward on to the DOha ROund of Development of global trade talks," said Azevedo.

According to the decision of the ninth ministerial, the WTO has been asked to prepare within a work programme for the Doha Round.

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