• Kyodo

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The United States and other farming countries want to focus on agricultural trade liberalization at the upcoming ministerial meeting in Tokyo of the World Trade Organization, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said Tuesday.

“I’m heading off to Tokyo, and frankly, the item where Brazil and the United States and other countries that are major agriculture producers (will) be focusing as much attention as we can is the need to follow through on the commitments of Doha,” Zoellick told a news conference.

He reiterated his view that Japan and the European Union should eliminate agricultural export subsidies and substantially reduce tariffs and domestic support measures.

Japan will host an informal WTO ministerial meeting in Tokyo from Friday through Sunday in a bid to accelerate three-year global trade talks launched in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001.

The WTO has set a March 31 deadline for an accord on the framework of farm trade liberalization commitments by member states. The upcoming WTO ministerial meeting in Japan is seen as a key opportunity for a breakthrough.

Zoellick announced that the U.S. is prepared to provide duty-free access for 65 percent of consumer and industrial goods, and 56 percent of farm products, from the Western Hemisphere once the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas takes effect.

“Obviously we are not going to be able to do that unless we get the Europeans and Japanese to go along,” Zoellick said.

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