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Final Proposal Drawn Up at WTO Meeting - 2001-11-14

A final proposal has been drawn up at the World Trade Organization meeting in Doha aimed at expanding global trade by lowering trade barriers. This came as trade ministers from 142 countries went past their self-imposed Tuesday deadline and worked into the early morning hours, Wednesday.

WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell says the final draft was significantly different from the one that had been draw up just a day earlier. He describes the latest draft as being the last, best shot at trying to reach agreement to launch a new round of trade talks.

Many delegations say they could go along with the latest text, for the sake of avoiding a repeat of the 1999 failure at the violence-beset Seattle meeting.

The two main sticking points in Doha appear to be the issues of farm subsidies and the environment. France was vehemently opposed to language that would phase out the subsidies, but apparently has agreed to drop its objection in favor of stronger language on the environment.

India is unhappy with that proposal, believing the European Union would use environmental regulations as a way to block exports from countries that do not meet Western standards in areas such as food safety.

The World Bank has calculated that launching a new trade round could add $2.8 trillion to the global economy by 2015.