EU says trade deal saved the WTO from 'irrelevance'

EU Trade Commissioner Karl De Gucht said Saturday a hard-won agreement on international commerce had saved the World Trade Organization from "the darkness of irrelevance".

"I am relieved because today marks the return of the WTO from the darkness of multilateral irrelevance into the light of multilateral action and success," he said in a statement.

"Today, we have saved the WTO and the Bali package."

Trade ministers approved a WTO agreement on international commerce on Saturday after more than four days of tough haggling in Bali that stretched past the conference's scheduled close.

It is the first global agreement struck by the WTO since its 1995 founding, although it falls far short of the Geneva-based body's vision of tearing down global trade barriers through its 12-year-old Doha Round of talks.

The package includes commitments to facilitate trade by simplifying customs procedures, pledges to limit agricultural subsidies, and policies to aid least-developed countries.