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World Trade Deal Reached on Farm Subsidies

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The World Trade Organization ends its meeting in Hong Kong, averting a collapse in global trade talks. Ministers agreed to end farm export subsidies by the year 2013. Developing nations had hoped for more.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:

In Hong Kong today, negotiators from most of the world's nations reached a deal to save global trade talks from collapse. Here's Pascal Lamy, the head of the World Trade Organization.

Mr. PASCAL LAMY (World Trade Organization): What you all take back from Hong Kong is a new political energy, a potent fuel to reach cruising speed during 2006.

ELLIOTT: That's when the WTO is supposed to reach a final deal. Today, ministers agreed, in the meantime, to end farm export subsidies by the year 2013. Developing countries had wanted the subsidies ended sooner. They say wealthier nations put them at a competitive disadvantage when they subsidize their own crops. African farmers in particular want the US to cut subsidies to American cotton farmers. Under today's Hong Kong declaration, rich countries will end export subsidies on cotton next year.

The deal ended a tumultuous meeting of the World Trade Organization that drew thousands of protesters from Africa, Latin America and Asia. Saturday, demonstrators fought street battles with Hong Kong police, and 900 protesters ended up in jail; many were South Korea who said the World Trade Organization rules are driving them out of business.

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