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Ag policy, food security linked

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Reuters) — The United States says it is prepared to examine how agricultural policy reform could boost global food security as part of a package of commitments at the World Trade Organization’s upcoming meeting in December.

“The United States agrees with India and other proponents that enhancing food security in developing countries is indeed an important issue for this body to address,” said Michael Punke, U.S. ambassador to the WTO.

“Therefore, today we are stating our openness to a work program, to be agreed by Bali, on food security that can examine the full range of trade-related government measures that can contribute to that goal.”

The U.S. outreach comes as WTO members strive to agree on a small package of trade reforms at the group’s upcoming ministerial meeting in December in Bali.

In late 2001, WTO members launched an ambitious round of talks aimed at slashing farm subsidies, cutting tariffs on agricultural and manufacturing goods and opening services markets around the world to more trade. Twelve years later, the WTO’s failure to complete the Doha round has tarnished its reputation.

A major reason for the impasse is the U.S. insistence that countries such as China, Brazil and India make better offers to open their markets in exchange for U.S. farm subsidy cuts.

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