WASHINGTON — In an effort to help resuscitate global trade talks that collapsed last year, the top U.S. trade official will begin a globe-trotting tour in Tokyo on Wednesday.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick will visit with several high-level trade officials in key cities around the world on his two-week tour that will span Asia, Africa and Europe.

“We have an opportunity to get the Doha negotiations [the name of the World Trade Organization’s round of global talks] on a practical track toward success — 2004 need not be a lost year,” Zoellick said in a statement. “

Finding common ground in such a divisive global economy has proven to be a difficult task for all 146 WTO trade envoys, who want to finish the talks aimed at tearing down global trade barriers by the end of this year.

That ambitious deadline was called into doubt, however, when the WTO talks collapsed in September in Cancún, Mexico, after rich and poor countries failed to bridge their differences on everything from agricultural subsidies to trade rules covering government procurement regulations and foreign investment.

Since then, a group of developing countries known as the Group of 21 led by Brazil, China and India, which helped bring the talks to a standstill in Cancún, have shown a willingness to revive the talks.

However, they are still calling for the elimination of agricultural export subsidies and domestic support in developed countries, and that issue will remain one of the biggest obstacles in the months ahead.

In addition, a group of 29 African cotton-producing countries is still calling for cotton to be dealt with separately in the WTO talks — an issue the U.S. has so far rejected. The original four in Cancún —Benin, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mali — are also still pushing for compensation for poor farmers until the subsidies are eliminated.

Zoellick has proposed that WTO ministers aim for a key meeting in Hong Kong before the end of the year.

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