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Leaders set trade deal deadline

Trade ministers from six of the world's leading industrial countries have said they are committed to finishing global negotiations by the end of the year.

After meetings in Delhi, G6 ministers vowed to speed up efforts to agree a treaty on lowering trade barriers. World Trade Organization talks have become bogged down over disagreements on agriculture. The talks also aim to boost incomes, and address some of the developing nations' concerns about global trade. Pressure for progress has also been heightened by a June deadline for the US to give fast-track approval for trade deals. The Doha round of talks, started in 2001, collapsed with a failure to agree on farm subsidies and tariffs. In order to push forward the so-called Doha round, ministers from the US, the European Union (EU), India, Brazil, Australia and Japan said they believed that „by intensifying our work, we can reach convergence and thus contribute to concluding the round by the end of 2007”. „We have a good shot at closure and meeting the end of the year deadline,” US Trade Representative Susan Schwab added.

EU Trade Minister Peter Mandelson added that the group had „forged a clear understanding” to complete the work on a fast track. WTO talks aimed at liberalizing world trade stalled last year because the US, European nations and other WTO members such as Brazil and India were unable to reach agreement on key issues such as farm tariffs. Of particular concern was disagreement between the US and the EU, with each side accusing the other of dragging its feet over reductions in farm tariffs and subsidies. Meanwhile, the big emerging economies, notably India and Brazil, face criticism from the US and Europe for failure to open their markets to imports of industrial goods - although they in turn say the developed countries are offering much less than they are demanding. (BBC NEWS)