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Gillard pushes Obama on trade agreements

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Prime Minister Julia Gillard has used her state visit to the USA to pressure President Barack Obama to conclude the Doha Round of trade talks after a decade of stalled attempts. During her visit to Washington, Gillard met with Obama to discuss trade agreements between the two nations, among other priority topics. In a speech to the US Chamber of Commerce, Gillard told businessmen that the World Trade Organisation talks were extremely important. "The round simply must conclude this year. 2011 is our last and best hope to get this done." The Doha round stalled in November last year over unresolvable conflicts between agricultural exporters. Australia led a bloc of low-subsidy producers to push for the US and European Union to reconsider their generous farm subsidies, which place low-subsidy exporters at a disadvantage. But powerful farmers’ unions in the US and Europe lobbied against liberalisation. India and China were also immovable on the significant import duties they impose on farm products. Gillard also used her meetings with Obama to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, a developing free trade pact between nine countries along the Pacific rim."The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another key economic opportunity. President Obama and I are committed to achieving a next generation trade and investment agreement," Gillard said. She said the agreement would provide a platform to liberalise trade across the region. "Indeed the Partnership could ultimately provide a pathway to a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific region."

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