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New chairman named for WTO farm talks

April 22, 2009 at 2:30 PM

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, April 22 (UPI) -- The World Trade Organization announced the appointment of New Zealand Ambassador David Walker as chairman of the pivotal negotiations on agriculture.

Walker replaces fellow New Zealander Crawford Falconer, who will be returning to Wellington to become a deputy secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the WTO said in a written statement Wednesday.

Walker will step into the lead role in talks that are politically contentious and at the same time key to the Doha Round of talks that have been aimed at reaching a comprehensive global trade agreement since 2001, the statement said.

Trade in farm products is a high priority for developing nations seeking greater access to markets in industrialized nations, although dropping trade barriers completely could also overwhelm their own farmers with cheap imports from higher-capacity foreign producers, the WTO said.

Walker's resume includes active roles in past trade negotiations, including the GATT agreement and Uruguay Round.

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