After six days of tense negotiations and mounting pressure from developing nations and countries with export potential, the 6th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong reached an agreement to end farm subsidies by 2013.
There was a general consensus that farm subsidies distort world trade and must be dealt with in order to create a more just international marketplace and level playing field for everyone.
But the counterpart to ending subsidies will be the opening of markets to manufactured goods, which was accepted by some Latin American and Caribbean nations only reluctantly.
Faced with the clear possibility of a total failure in Hong Kong, the G-20 – led by Brazil and India – decided to concentrate their efforts on getting the rich nations to agree to a date to end their farm subsidies.
What the G-20 really wanted in Hong Kong was an immediate end to the subsidies; after all an end to subsidies had been agreed on in principle in 2004.
Most of the 149 WTO members were pushing for a 2010 date, but the European Union refused that. In accepting the lesser offer, the G-20 avoided going home empty-handed and came away with a victory.