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WTO Talks Open in Hong Kong

A demonstration against globalization outside the WTO meeting on 13 December (epa) 13 December 2005 -- Top trade negotiators from nearly 150 countries started talks in Hong Kong today aimed at salvaging world trade negotiations.

The meeting immediately drew protests with antiglobalization demonstrators trying unsuccessfully to breach a police roadblock.

Riot police used pepper spray to hold back the approximately 60 demonstrators. They were mostly South Korean farmers.

World Trade Organization members say they are hoping to agree on a package to help poor countries prosper from trade liberalization.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang spoke at the start of today's negotiations about the importance of trade.

"We believe that trade is an engine of growth and that it must work for development," Tsang said. "What we are seeking to do is to help developing economies better integrate into the global system so that they too can reap the benefits of free and open trade."

The EU, in particular, has faced intense pressure to offer deeper cuts in its agriculture tariffs.