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Germany

Germany Welcomes WTO Deal

Germany on Monday welcomed an 11th-hour accord by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to salvage global trade talks as a win-win deal for poorer countries and the world economy.

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The agreement will eventually cut subsidies and reduce trade barriers

German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek hailed the weekend deal as a "good signal for developing countries," her spokesman told reporters. "We still expect progress in reducing agricultural subsidies ... and hope that it will be achieved in the subsequent negotiations on the details."

Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement said that "substantial progress" had been made at the marathon talks in Geneva and sent "a positive signal for the world economy."

He called the agreement "a finely balanced blend of requirements and concessions" that afforded an "imperfect" but essentially fair compromise for all.

Overcoming a serious crisis

The private sector was also pleased by the deal.

"The WTO has overcome the serious crisis that began at the last meeting in Cancun," said the director of the German Federation of Industry, Ludolf von Wartenburg, referring to the collapse of a similar negotiating round at a ministerial conference in Cancun, Mexico last September.

He added, however, that the revival of negotiations was no guarantee an ultimate pact would be reached.

The German press had reservations on the accord.

The Handelsblatt business daily spoke of a "historic compromise," declaring that the "WTO negotiations cycle have taken off again. The German export economy could be one of the beneficiaries."

Vague guidelines

But the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said the deal "was of course characterized by some as historic but that is an exaggeration.

"Because the guidelines for the liberalization (of trade) are vague and a decision on several points of friction was delayed, the conflict over reducing duty rights and subsidies will be even tougher in the future," the paper wrote.

WTO Verhandlungen in Genf begonnen Protest

Campaigners of the international agency Oxfam in front of a protest sculpture depicting leaders of the EU, Canada, the US and Japan with their heads in the sand at the WTO talks in Geneva

The WTO's 147-member General Council adopted the agreement early Sunday after a five-day negotiating drive and nearly a year of deadlock.

The breakthrough was aimed mainly at eventually cutting subsidies and reducing barriers to the multi-billion-dollar global trade in farm goods.

The WTO will now attempt to conclude the so-called Doha round of trade liberalization talks by the end of the year. When completed, it is expected to open markets for agriculture and industrial goods and services for all WTO member countries.

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