We've made it! 160 WTO members agree to Bali agreement
The deal to implement the first global trade reform pact in the WTO's 19-year history was finally reached Thursday after negotiations were delayed for 24 hours.
"We've made it!" WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo had said in a speech to member states, according to a trade diplomat in the room.
"We have put ourselves back in the game," he was quoted as saying, adding "We've seen a renewed commitment to the multilateral system."
The member states had adopted the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), aimed at streamlining global customs procedures, and one on the management of food stockpiles.
These two texts were agreed upon late last year in Bali, but had been stalled since July, when India refused to endorse the pact unless its food stockpiles were exempted from possible punitive measures.
The final agreement to put the Trade Facilitation Agreement into action was met with applause.
"Once in force, it will help developing countries better integrate into the global economy, intensify regional integration and lift millions out of poverty," EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem enthused in a statement.
US trade representative Michael Froman also hailed the deal, which he described as "a critical step forward by breaking the impasse that has prevailed since July." ■