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Doha free trade talks 'dead': Chile president

SYDNEY -- Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said Monday the long-awaited Doha free trade deal was “dead” but nobody wants to kill it and, though slow-moving, APEC was at least taking global trade forward.

Negotiations on the global accord stalled again last December after being launched in the Qatari capital a decade ago, as rich and emerging nations failed to bridge gaps over the level of cuts to industrial goods tariffs and farm subsidies.

Neither the bigger economies nor the smaller economies have so far been able to reach agreement on what concessions they should make and the slowdown in the global economy has compounded challenges in the complex negotiations.

Pinera during a formal diplomatic visit in Australia said the Doha talks were going “nowhere at this time” and smaller “shortcut” deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and ASEAN+3 or ASEAN+6 were the only way to keep momentum going.

“I think the best way to integrate the world is when we have a worldwide agreement — that was the target of the World Trade Organization and that was the mission of the Doha round,” the Chilean president told Australia's Lowy Institute foreign policy think tank.

“Unfortunately we haven't been able to move forward and we have been stagnated for the last 10 years in terms of those negotiations that started in Doha,” he said.

“Everybody knows that it's dead but nobody wants to kill it. That's why I think APEC has been good.”

Pinera said Chile had been able to ink a Free Trade Agreement with Hong Kong during this month's APEC summit in Russia as well as signing off on the investment phase of its FTA with China.

“We're taking about a huge alliance and we are moving in that direction, not ... at the speed that was planned at the beginning, but it is moving forward,” he said, describing APEC as “alive and committed.”

A top WTO official warned in July that the Doha round of global trade talks looked doomed until the global economy picked up, with agreement on concessions remaining elusive and more countries now focusing on smaller pacts.

Negotiations have been dogged by disagreement, including how much the United States and the European Union should reduce farm aid and the extent to which emerging market giants such as India and China should cut tariffs on industrial products.

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