India, US breakthrough breathes 'new life' into trade talks

BRISBANE, Australia - World Trade Organisation Secretary-General Roberto Azevedo on Friday said recent developments including the resolution by India and the United States of a row over food subsidies had revived the organisation.

"I commend the leadership that has been shown on all fronts in recent days, it certainly has breathed new life into the WTO," he told reporters at the G20 in Brisbane.

India and the United States said Thursday they have resolved a row over food subsidies that had been blocking a landmark global trade pact for months.

The Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) has been stalled since July, when India refused to endorse it unless its food stockpiles were exempted from possible punitive measures, prompting the US to accuse it of taking the WTO "to the brink of crisis".

Azevedo, in Australia for the weekend G20 talks, welcomed the development, adding he felt there was high probability that the Bali package would be implemented soon.

The draft of the so-called Trade Facilitation Agreement was hammered out last December during tough negotiations at a World Trade Organisation conference in Bali -- the WTO's first global accord since its 1995 founding.

But the WTO's 160 members failed in July to reach a final agreement on the deal, which Azevedo himself has said is crucial to ensuring the WTO's relevance.

"Yesterday I received very positive news that the US and India had reached an understanding that will help us overcome the stalemate," he said Friday.

"I strongly welcome this development and I applaud the leadership that has been been shown by India and US to move the process forward."