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Developing countries will launch trade negotiations next week that most likely will focus on eliminating tariffs in certain sectors, a top Argentine official said yesterday.

Trade Secretary Martin Redrado said the initiative was aimed at boosting trade between poorer nations. He credited Argentine Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna with suggesting the idea after world trade talks collapsed last year in Cancun, Mexico.

Since then, work done among the G20 group of developing nations - which includes Argentina, India, Brazil and China - has increased confidence between negotiators from "different parts of the world," he said.

The new negotiations will be launched at the quadrennial gathering of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development next Wednesday in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

While many details are still being worked out, the talks are likely to focus on lowering tariffs in industrial and other sectors where developing countries have complementary, rather than competitive, interests.

The new initiative comes as World Trade Organization members appear to be making progress toward reaching a "framework agreement" covering agriculture, services and industrial goods by the end of July.

That would essentially restore world trade talks to where they should have been in Cancun.

The WTO talks are officially targeted for conclusion by Jan. 1, but Redrado said he did not expect a new WTO agreement until sometime in 2007.Philadelphia Inquirer: