WTO conference concludes with some progress, no substantial agreements

Updated 2017-12-14 14:04:11 Xinhua

The 11th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference concluded on Wednesday with no substantial agreements reached after three days of debate.

WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo described the gathering of the WTO's 164 members as a "disappointment," but meanwhile acknowledged that "some progress" had been made.

"They (the sessions) have been a disappointment, but we have made some progress, (and) the work continues," said Azevedo at a press conference after the closing of the conference.

"What is most important is we have heard the commitment to continue the work and intensify it," he added.

Azevedo admitted "there was no outcome whatsoever" in the field of agriculture, one of the main topics on the agenda at the conference which Argentina was most interested in.

"We have brought positions closer together, but not close enough. The work continues, the negotiations are going to continue, and it couldn't be any other way," the WTO chief said.

Some 20 proposals were put forward in a bid to curb agricultural subsidies and other measures considered as counter-free-trade, but none were agreed on.

"The different sides must show flexibility. You can't get everything you want, but you can't stop participating either," said Azevedo, amid rumors that the United States had taken a particularly stiff stance during the debate about the direction the WTO should take.

The conference, the first of its kind in South America, ended without a declaration of consensus among members.

Argentina's former Foreign Affairs Minister Susana Malcorra, who served as president of this conference, said "without doubt it was a very complex conference" which took place "at a watershed moment for international trade."

"It's clear there are really very different outlooks on the topics at play," she said.

The Ministerial Conference is the top decision-making body of the WTO which has been held every two years since 1996.

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