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Asia-Pacific economies push for open farm trade

Asia-Pacific finance ministers have agreed to bolster growth to fight economic headwinds from Europe and say free trade should be upheld on global farm markets as poor harvests force up grain prices.

The 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) made the appeal to resist protectionist measures in the agriculture sector at talks in Russia, which faces its worst wheat harvest in nine years, while prolonged drought has decimated U.S. crops.

The ministers highlighted “the need to avoid export bans,” an apparent reference to hosts Russia, which imposed a temporary embargo on grain exports two years ago after crops failed.

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov backed the joint statement, telling a news conference that restrictions on farm trade “would not serve the general trend towards economic growth.”

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