Developing members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) called on the rich countries Thursday to address the poor countries' agricultural concerns to fulfill the development mandate of the Doha Round trade negotiations.
Farmers of developing countries "continue to be burdened by gigantic trade-distorting subsidies and prohibitive market access barriers in developed countries," said a joint statement of nearly 100 developing countries.
"Addressing these (trade) distortions effectively is the most important unfinished task in the WTO," said the statement, which was issued after a meeting of developing countries at the WTO headquarters.
Senior officials and coordinators representing nearly 100 developing countries attended the meeting, which was convened by Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim to review the situation of the ongoing Doha Round trade negotiations.
According to the statement, the development mandate of the Doha Round calls for greater efforts from the developed countries, such as further clarification of their offer on agricultural subsidies and tariff cuts.
"Clarity about the actual contribution that will be made by developed countries will enable developing countries to do their part, in proportion to their capabilities and in line with the mandate," the statement said.
Amorim told reporters after the meeting that agriculture was a central part of the Doha Round.
"Any attempt to change this central fact that agriculture is the locomotive of the round of course is bound to fail," he said.
He also expressed his dissatisfaction with the draft proposals put forward by chief agriculture negotiator Crawford Falconer in July, saying the proposals were "full of obscurities, loopholes and even black holes."
Falconer's proposals called on the United States to reduce its domestic agricultural subsidies to between 12.8 billion and 16.2 billion U.S. dollars.
But developing countries said the range was too wide and the United States should clarify where in the range it would fall.
The Doha Round of trade negotiations, launched six years ago to cut trade barriers to agriculture, industrial goods and services, is still deadlocked despite recently intensified talks at the WTO headquarters here.