Monday, 28 July 2008

WTO talks progress, but new farm issues surface

IW: I've been posting a lot of news stories about the so-called Doha round of trade negotiations, currently balanced on a knife edge in Geneva at the WTO.

The reason, quite simply, is that the results of these negotiations could have an enormous impact on farmers everywhere, both opportunities and threats.

Here's the latest news.

GENEVA: Disputes over farm policies of emerging Asian countries and European rules on banana imports emerged Sunday as obstacles to a possible global trade deal after a full week of talks.In Geneva, a decades-old dispute over European banana imports was edging toward resolution Sunday. But China and India were both fighting accusations that they were blocking a consensus.China was trying to keep foreign rice, sugar and cotton out of its market by assigning them special status, said one diplomat familiar with the discussions. India was seeking protection for its subsistence farmers.The United States was in talks about its system of tariffs on cotton, and Brazil made clear that it was dissatisfied with restrictions on its ability to export ethanol to Europe.Peter Mandelson, the European Union trade commissioner, said that while the trade round was "not resolved," an agreement was in sight. "The big figures and core issues are largely sorted," he said, "but there are a number of stumbling blocks and potholes dotted around the core issues, any of which would detonate at any moment."

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