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WTO Negotiators Reach Tentative Agreement


Negotiators at the World Trade Organization conference have reached a tentative agreement on a draft accord for the talks ending Sunday in Hong Kong. The draft indicates that wealthy countries have agreed to eliminate farm export subsidies by 2013. Farm subsidies by wealthy nations to their farmers make it difficult for the farmers in poor countries to market their goods around the world. While delegates talk inside the meeting hall, police are preparing for another day of demonstrations outside.

Twenty-four hours ago, there were fears that the World Trade Organization members would make no progress on increasing trade. But as the final day of talks began Sunday, there was hope of gains.

On Saturday, delegates began debating a new draft of the conference's final declaration. WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell describes the reaction to the draft. "Everyone has problems with it. Everyone is taking something away. And people realize we're almost out of time. There's still an opportunity to try and advance the process," he said.

Among other areas, the delegates made progress on ending export subsidies that rich nations give their farmers, and on plans to give the poorest countries increased market access.

Hong Kong police say they are prepared for renewed violence, after anti-WTO protesters broke through police lines and nearly reached the convention center on Saturday. They were repelled with tear gas and pepper spray.

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