Wed, Jul 14, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Delegation boosted for WTO talks

GENEVA NEGOTIATIONS MOFA has sent more officials to monitor the trade and agriculture discussions, including the chairman of the Council of Agriculture

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government will dispatch top trade and agriculture officials to Geneva to join negotiations ahead of the end-of-the-month deadline for an outline accord on global trade, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

WTO members have held several separate group talks aiming to reach a framework accord on trade liberalization by the end of this month, leading to a full global commerce deal. The talks have been tough since a collapse of negotiations in Cancun last year.

"Our permanent mission to the WTO is very serious about the end of July deadline. We hope our top agriculture and trade officials can travel to Geneva to supervise the negotiation process," said Colvin Liu (劉榮座), director general of the ministry's Department of Econo-mic and Trade Affairs, in a press conference.

"Agriculture is the toughest issue in the talks," Liu said.

Lee Ching-lung (李金龍), chairman of the Council of Agriculture, arrived in Geneva a week ago to join the negotiations.

"If talks on agriculture proceed smoothly, Vice Minister of Econo-mic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) will lead another delegation to Geneva to negotiate non-agricultural issues," Liu said.

Chen said earlier in Geneva that through the combined force displayed by the Group of 10 (G10) in the WTO trade-liberalization talks, the nation's agricultural development and its farmers' interests will be safeguarded.

The G10 is made up of Taiwan, Bulgaria, Israel, Iceland, Japan, Mauritius, Norway, Switzerland, South Korea and Liechtenstein -- all major agricultural importers -- and is aimed at protecting and advancing the agricultural interests of its members in the Doha Round of trade negotiations.

On Sunday, Yen Ching-chang (顏慶章), the nation's representative to the WTO, said that it is hard to predict what might happen in the next two weeks.

"However, Taiwan has made its stance fully known at various WTO occasions over the past year. In agricultural negotiations, where Taiwan is particularly weak, we have teamed up with the G10 to strongly express our special concerns and positions," he said.

As a relatively new WTO member, Taiwan's presentations in a negotiations have attracted considerable attention from other members, which "will significantly help Taiwan's trade interests," Yen said.

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