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Key Economic Officials Say Progress Possible in WTO Talks


Two key economic officials say the time could be right for long-stalled talks on a world trade deal to move ahead.

World Bank president and former U.S. trade official Robert Zoellick says a world trade deal that would benefit all economies is within reach, if nations take the latest proposed agreements and negotiate seriously.

India's Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath says the latest draft agreements offer good reason to resume deadlocked WTO talks, although he says he has some concerns about the content.

Earlier this week, negotiators put out a draft agreement that would require the United States to cut farm subsidies to between $13 billion and $16 billion. In return, a number of developing nations would have to cut tariffs on industrial goods.

The WTO's 150 members are haggling over the extent of new reductions in barriers to trade in agriculture, industrial goods and services.

Developing nations complain that subsidies for agriculture in wealthy nations artificially depress prices and keep their small farms from competing on world markets.

In return for farm cuts, developed nations want lower tariffs to make it easier to sell manufactured goods in poor countries.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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