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Trade Ministers Seek to Salvage Global Trade Agreement


World trade ministers say they want to meet for a new round of global trade talks in April, as part of an effort to narrow disputes between developing nations and rich countries.

Trade ministers from the United States, the European Union, Brazil, India and other countries agreed in principle to the new talks Saturday, on the sidelines of the world economic forum in Switzerland. No date has been set.

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab says President Bush is committed to reaching a deal on the so-called "Doha round" of World Trade Organization talks before he leaves office next year. Schwab says chances of reaching a deal will diminish If there is no agreement in 2008.

Agriculture disputes between rich and poor countries have blocked a deal on the talks, which were launched in late 2001.

Poor nations have complained that government aid to farmers in rich countries prompts wealthy farmers to overproduce, driving down prices and making it difficult for poor farmers to compete.

Wealthy nations say they are willing to reduce farm subsidies, if developing nations drop import tariffs and open their markets to manufactured goods from developed nations.

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

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