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WTO Talks Close with Partial Trade Agreement, Over 900 Protesters Arrested in Hong Kong
by Democracy Now (reposted)
Monday Dec 19th, 2005 7:24 AM
The World Trade Organization wrapped up its six-day ministerial meeting on Sunday with a partial trade agreement. On Saturday police arrested 900 protesters during widespread protests on the streets of Hong Kong led by farmers, peasants and union members. We go to Hong Kong for a report.
Yesterday was the close of the World Trade Organization's ministerial meeting in Hong Kong. Sunday wrapped up six days of talks by trade ministers from 149 countries looking to rewrite trade laws on agriculture, industrial goods and services. WTO negotiators cut a last minute deal on Sunday that would, among other things, end all agricultural export subsidies by 2013. Developing nations have charged that such government farm support to promote exports undercuts the ability of poor farmers to sell their goods. Many of these nations, led by Brazil, were pushing to end the payments by 2010. Non-governmental organizations expressed disappointment at the agreement. The relief agency OXFAM released a statement that read, "This is a profoundly disappointing text and a betrayal of development promises by rich countries whose interests have prevailed yet again."

Thousands of demonstrators also took to the streets during the conference. On Saturday, almost 1,000 protestors marched, confronted police and tried to force their way into the conference hall. 900 of the protestors were arrested. Most of the demonstrators were South Korean farmers worried that the trade organization's rules would require their country to allow imports of inexpensive rice.

* Maude Barlow, the Director of the Council of Canadians describing Saturday's protest. Courtesy, Carolyn Crane of KVMR.

On Sunday, 5,000 demonstrators took to the streets to protest the talks. We go to Hong Kong to speak with Anuradha Mittal.

* Anuradha Mittal, founder and director of The Oakland Institute, a California-based think that advocates for fair trade.

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