By Boyd Champness

AUSTRALIAS agricultural leaders have been buoyed by the news that the next round of world trade talks on agriculture are about to start.

The World Trade Organisations General Council announced that the WTOs committee on agriculture would convene on 22 March to begin negotiations in farm trade barriers.

According to The Weekly Times, the negotiations had already been locked in place two years ago under Article 20 of world trade rules, but prospects for progress looked bleak after the collapse of last years world trade talks in Seattle.

Federal Trade Minister Mark Vaile welcomed the development, but said Australia would be pushing to have the negotiations on both agriculture and services rolled into a new round of multilateral trade talks.

It is believed that negotiations on agriculture are more likely to succeed if they are part of a wider WTO round that includes numerous sectors.