Friday, 8 August 2008

Efforts begin to salvage WTO deal

GENEVA: As efforts begin to salvage a deal from the wreckage of last month's global trade talks, experts say the first task is to untangle the confusion around a farm safeguard that became a stumbling block.
The World Trade Organization's director general, Pascal Lamy, said the talks, now in their seventh year, were near agreement on 90 percent of the agenda, especially in the core areas of agriculture and industrial goods. For many WTO members, it would be frustrating to discard that progress because of a dispute about a technical but important measure to help poor farmers withstand a flood of imports.
"Almost everything was right for a conclusion when we had this impasse between the United States and India," the president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, said Thursday in Beijing. "If we don't get back to the talks, and if we don't clinch a deal in the coming months, it will take four or five years more, and that would be a huge loss for everyone."
A senior U.S. trade official, Warren Maruyama, said Wednesday that the differences between the United States and big emerging countries like India and China were too complex to be resolved quickly. He said there was no point bringing ministers back together until such issues like the safeguard had been sorted out. But trade diplomats point to several factors suggesting that the negotiations, part of the so-called Doha round of talks, could be resumed soon even if a final deal must wait until after the U.S. elections. The U.S. trade representative, Susan Schwab, emphasized after the talks collapsed that U.S. offers remained on the table.
IHT, Wednesday 6th August 2008

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