A first ever deal on trade reform was reached on Saturday by the World Trade Organization. When announced a roar of approval went up from the close to 160 ministers in attendance that gathered in Bali, the Indonesian island to decide on an agreement that could help increase the global economy by $1 trillion.
The approval still came after a last minute threat by Cuba to veto the package. Roberto Azevedo, the WTO chief said for the first time in its history the WTO has delivered.
Azevedo told that to all the exhausted ministers following the talks that had dragged on into one extra day on the beautiful resort island.
The talks opened Tuesday and nearly became unglued when Cuba at the last minute suddenly decided not to accept the deal that would not open the embargo by the U.S. of the island in the Caribbean.
That forced the negotiations to go into the early hours of Saturday morning. A compromise was later agreed to between Cuba and the U.S.
However, some skepticism existed as to what was really accomplished.
The talks started with a cloud over them due to India’s insistence at the beginning that it would just support an agreement if a compromise on food subsides was established due to its huge program for stockpiling food for its large number of poor.
India, which has an election year in 2014, won plaudits back home for taking the tough stand on behalf of the poor around the world.
Eventually a compromise was reached with the jubilation of Anand Sharma the Trade Minister of India. While India originally insisted on being permanently exempted from the WTO policies, the final text said a permanent solution would be found within the next four years.
Nevertheless, the agreement is a huge milestone for all 159 members of the WTO. It marked the first global trade agreement by the organization since its creation in 1995.
It has also rescued the organization from near failure, which will help spark confidence in its ability to eliminate barriers to trade across the globe, following 12 years of negotiations that failed.
The deal lowers barriers to trade and speeds the process of goods passing through customs. Some analysts estimate over time the agreement could boost the world economy by billions and created over 20 million new jobs with the most being in developing nations.
Each government that is a member still needs to officially approve the measure.
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