WTO overcomes last minute hitch to reach its first global trade deal

Sat Dec 7, 2013 4:53am EST
 
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By Randy Fabi

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) - The World Trade Organization 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 World Trade Organization," 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 U.S. embargo of the Caribbean island, forcing negotiations to drag into Saturday morning.

Cuba later agreed on a compromise with the United States.

TRADE SCEPTICISM

But there was skepticism how much had really been achieved.   Continued...

 
Director-General Roberto Azevedo gestures as he is congratulated by delegates after the closing ceremony of the ninth World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Nusa Dua, on the Indonesian resort island of Bali December 7, 2013. REUTERS/Edgar Su