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WTO talks collapse a tragic failure: China

Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming says in the face of economic donturn, serious inflation, the failure will have a major impact on the fragile multilateral trading system.

business Updated: Jul 30, 2008 10:14 IST

China called the collapse of World Trade Organisation talks a "tragic failure" and expressed disappointment on Wednesday over the inability of those involved to reach a consensus.

"This is a tragic failure," Commerce Minister Chen Deming said in a statement posted on his ministry's website.

China, like other countries, was "very disappointed", he said.

"Particularly in the face of a world economic downturn, serious inflation and imminent financial risks, the failure will have a major impact on the fragile multilateral trading system," he said.

The marathon negotiations for a global trade pact collapsed on Tuesday after ministers quit emotional talks without a deal due to a deadlock between India and the United States over subsidy levels and import tariffs.

Ministers had struggled for more than a week to reach consensus for a new deal under the WTO's Doha Round, which has repeatedly foundered since its launch seven years ago.

Chen said China had made major compromises during the negotiations.

"I also hope that all WTO members could reflect upon the failure and learn a lesson from it so that the quality and efficiency of future negotiations could be improved," he said.

Chen said that the talks had broken down because of the "inability of two countries to bridge the gap between their positions" on the crucial issue of the special safeguard mechanism (SSM) to protect poor farmers.

He did not specify which countries.

But the United States and India were sharply divided over the SSM, which would have imposed a special tariff on certain agricultural goods in the event of an import surge or price fall.

With both sides refusing to give way, acrimony peaked on Monday with the United States publicly accusing India and China of holding up progress.