By ZHU QIWEN
Express Commentator

 Nearly a year after the collapse of WTO talks in Cancun last September, the breakthrough deal the World Trade Organization's(WTO) 147 members struck on July 31 breathed new life into the Doha Round trade talks.
 By committing wealthy countries to substantial cuts of trade-distorting farm subsidies, the interim accord marked a needed first stab at marrying trade liberalization with fair trade order.
 Though the triumph will, for the moment at least, rescue the stalled Doha Round
trade talks from the rising dislocation of globalization, there is still a long way to go before the WTO's development promises can be fully translated into reality.
 The Doha Round was lunched in the Qatari capital Doha in late 2001 with a central aim to give developing nations bigger benefits from trade.
 Negotiations were originally expected to conclude by January 1, 2005.
 However, because of the rich nations' reluctance to make necessary concessions, the Cancun meeting - which was supposed to take stock of progress in negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda - turned out to be a bitter memory of the divide between rich and poor nations on the global trade order.
 Rich nations, which accounted for 14 per cent of the world population, reaped 75 per cent of the revenue of international trade.
 While benefiting so much and so long from global trading, they nevertheless still cling to agricultural subsidies which unfairly tilt the international trade order against most developing countries.
 Free trade is undoubtedly the best way to reduce global poverty as well as boost economic growth for poor countries.
 But growing discontents with globalization conspicuously gives evidence to the disappointing fact that prosperity free trade brings about had never been equitably shared between rich and poor nations.
 Agriculture is typically a big part of developing countries' economies. But poor nations find it hard to compete against rich nations' farmers, who get more than US$300 billion in government handouts each year.
 It is all too obvious that such unbalanced trade is neither sustainable nor helpful to the development of the world economy.
 The collapse in Cancun has virtually made the recent trade talks a final chance to save not only the Doha Development Agenda but also the multilateral trading system itself.
 Thanks to strenuous and last-ditch efforts by all sides, negotiators hammered out a deal to extend this round of trade talks until at least December 2005, while some believing 2006 or 2007 to be more realistic.
 The new mid-way accord has set needed guidelines for future negotiations. And an extension of the negotiation timetable has also allowed us to get our breath back.
 Yet, as details of the deal remain to be negotiated, we must foster a renewed sense of urgency as soon as possible.
 Thankfully, WTO members have not allowed pessimism to prevail after the failure of trade talks in Cancun.
 Persistence was needed to put the Doha round back on track.
 And now it is.
 To eventually turn the development promises into real benefits for poor countries, all members of the global trading system should make the most of the optimism the interim accord ignited to speed up talks.

  IN BRIEF

Press release
 The Eighth CIFIT's organizing committee introduced its latest preparatory work for the upcoming fair at a press conference recently held in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian Province.
At the meeting, Huang Ling, Vice-Mayor of Xiamen -- the fair's host city, introduced the new content, highlights and preparatory work of the CIFIT.
Lin Changcong, vice general-secretary of the organizing committee requested more promotion for the CIFIT during the month before the fair.

Restrictions
 In order to ensure better security and services at the Eighth CIFIT, the Xiamen Municipal Government has dispatched a document stipulating limits on the highest prices for hotels in the city.
The document also requested tourism and price regulatory departments to strengthen supervision of tourism service quality and implementation of the price fixing.

Sweden participant
 Having been the largest participating business at the last fair, Sweden's Volvo Car Corporation has decided to attend the upcoming Eighth CIFIT again. It is the second time the company has showcased itself at the fair.
Compared with last year, the company will double their booth area to 600 square metres, setting a new record among registered businesses until now.
The company is expected to display a brand new series of its vehicles during the fair, according to sources with the company.

Sidelines
 The Ministry of Commerce -- the CIFIT's sponsor and China EMBA Society (a magazine) will jointly hold the First China EMBA Entrepreneurs Fair during the Eighth CIFIT.
The fair aims at providing Chinese EMBA entrepreneurs an information platform on investment, financing, law service, financial management and business opportunities.
Co-operating with the fair's organizer, US-based NASDAQ Corporate will hold a forum at the fair. The company's Asian Region Chairman Ghanshyam Dass will deliver a speech at the forum about his opinion on Chinese and American small and medium enterprises going public.

 

 Members of the Eighth CIFIT's organizing committee held full discussions about the fair recently at its second preparatory meeting in Lanzhou, capital of Guansu Province.
 Member provinces of Henan, Jiangsu and Liaoning promised to highlight their best efforts.

Henan Province
 Central China's Henan Province will be sending to the fair a huge delegation of about 1,000 people from 18 cities, with a majority from enterprises. They are coming to seek opportunities.
 In April, Henan held an investment and trade promotion fair of its own. More than 200 projects signed at the fair will be showcased at the Eighth CIFIT.
 Because of Henan's advantages in resources, 60 per cent of the projects cover the manufacturing sector, including coal, electricity, aluminum, and automobiles. Altogether 34 projects have been posted on the website for CIFIT.
 "The promotion symposium on Henan Province is to take on a new look.Pragmatism is our priority. We are more concerned about projects underway and their follow-up, according to Zhang Jinxuan, the director of the commercial department of Henan Province.
 He said an exhibition booth of 160 square meters was too small to showcase what they have achieved. Henan will highlight their strategy of developing cities in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River such as Luoyang, Xinxiang, Kaifeng and Xuchang, all of which will have individual stands at the fair.

Jiangsu Province
 Jiangsu Province on the east coast of China is targeting a matchmaking symposium. The province succeeded in matching five projects last year when the event was first introduced to the fair. So they have confidence in their prospects this year.
 "Jiangsu Province is affected to a certain degree by policies on controlling the heated economy." according to Lou Haizhong, deputy-director of foreign investment of foreign economic and trade department of the province. "We are selecting those projects that are in line with national industrial polices."
 Jiangsu is likely to promote State-supported industries such as modern manufacturing and service industry.
 Lou elaborated on the scheme on balancing the development of south, central and north parts of the province. The province's booth will feature the eight cities in central and north parts of Jiangsu so as to draw more attention there since south Jiansu has a relatively developed economy.

Liaoning Province
 As one of the loyal members of CIFIT, Liaoning is especially happy to seethe revival of Northeast China's traditional industrial bases has been set as one of the five highlights of the fair this year.
 Liaoning's gross domestic product accounts for nearly 50 per cent of the three provinces in Northeast China and foreign investment injected into the province accounts for 80 per cent of the region's total.
 "In response to the theme of this fair to revive and explore the potential of the traditional industrial base of Northeast region, we plan to introduce two bases: raw material and equipment manufacturing; and three sectors: IT, modern agriculture and service," said Wang Shutao, Director of Foreign Investment of Foreign Economic and Trade Department of Liaoning Province.
 Liaoning speaks highly of the forums at the session of the fair. According to participants, high profile forums offer them a broader vision of the world economy. "This year we will also provide tickets to leaders at municipal level. I tell them that these tickets are quite popular, go and bring something back," said a senior official.
 The fair consists of more than 30 members, for which a special zone will be set up. Other provinces apart from Henan, Jiangsu and Liaoning are also staging exhibits in a very dynamic way in order to make CIFIT a fruitful event.