Chinese complaints increase doubts over Doha accord

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GENEVA, Nov 9 (Reuters) Complaints from China have added to growing doubts over whether a global accord can be reached in World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks, diplomats said.

China, which joined the WTO in 2001, added its voice this week to growing dissent among developing powers over the slant of the Doha negotiations on industrial goods, which have emerged as one of the trickiest areas of negotiation.

The six-year-old Doha round talks, launched in Qatar with the aim of boosting global trade flows and helping poor producers export more, have struggled to overcome countries' reluctance to expose sensitive markets to foreign competition.

Beijing threatened to ''veto'' or ''block'' any revised compromise text from manufactured goods' talks chairman Don Stephenson that contains tougher tariff-cutting requirements for China than other recently acceded WTO members.

This drew a stern response from the European Union which said the Chinese stance could ''spark off political reactions'' in the talks that require consensus among the WTO's 151 member states for a deal to be reached, diplomats said.

Stephenson, Canada's ambassador to the WTO, had planned to update his July negotiating paper later this month to narrow the range of proposed cuts to the maximum tariffs both developed and developing countries are allowed to impose.

But he said this week he would delay issuing that revision because parallel WTO negotiations in agriculture -- considered the key issue in the Doha talks -- were taking longer than expected.

Many developing countries are looking for better offers of access to U.S. and European farming markets in return for accepting cuts to their highest-allowable tariffs on textiles, steel, car parts and other manufactured goods.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said last week emerging nations would not accept a WTO deal that is slanted in favour of the rich world, where politically influential farmers have resisted calls to scale back price-distorting subsidies for corn, dairy, soy and cotton.

The complaint from China, which had previously not voiced much opposition to the talks, added to a growing sense that there has been little if any progress despite several months of intense industrial goods' discussions in Geneva.

''(Stephenson) said he saw no movement in members' positions and he was left where he was before,'' a source familiar with the industrial goods' talks said.

The World Bank has estimated that a Doha deal could add billion to the global economy annually by 2015. Many economists believe the biggest cost of failure in the WTO talks could be a spike in trade disputes and protectionist measures.

REUTERS BJR KP1848

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