[Marxism] World trade talks fail as India, China resist US demands

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Tue Jul 29 13:20:28 MDT 2008


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jul/29/wto.eu

Mandelson condemns collapse of world trade talks in Geneva
Press Association guardian.co.uk, Tuesday July 29 2008 Article history

The collapse of world trade talks in Geneva has been bitterly condemned by
EU trade negotiator Peter Mandelson as "a burial".

Nine days of talks involving dozens of trade ministers and hundreds of trade
experts from more than 30 countries broke down over the refusal of China and
India to open up agriculture markets to US imports to the extent that
Washington wanted. 

The American delegation said the "safeguard clause" protecting developing
nations from unrestricted imports had been set too low. 

Mandelson made clear in a blog from the Geneva talks that he could not
believe a global trade deal seven years in the making and already two years
overdue could be scuppered by something so relatively trivial.

Before the talks ended in acrimony this afternoon, the EU trade commissioner
wrote that the talks were making progress on other trade issues and went on:
"The mood in the EU negotiating team and among the other delegations around
the World Trade Organisation is one of disbelief. 

"How could the Doha round be sunk by a safeguard clause? Everybody is aware
we are on the brink." 

The talks need a willingness to compromise, Mandelson said, and if that did
not happen, "[it] won't be a negotiation - it will be a burial, however it
is made to look".

This afternoon the main negotiating nations, the US, EU, China, India,
Japan, Australia and Brazil - gave up efforts to bring the so-called Doha
development round to a close. 

Mandelson's own negotiating tactics - offering 60% cuts in EU agriculture
tariffs - have been attacked by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who blamed
Mandelson for stirring Irish farmers into rejecting the Lisbon treaty in
last month's referendum. 

Yesterday, the French president called EU commission President Jose Manuel
Barroso demanding that Mandelson be sent to Paris to explain himself.

The suggestion was declined and Mandelson, the only EU commissioner with a
negotiating mandate to speak on behalf of 27 countries, pointed out that he
was busy negotiating a global trade deal. 

Other EU countries felt Mandelson was exceeding his brief and giving away
too much, but beyond the EU carping, the trade commissioner denied blame for
the breakdown of talks in Geneva.

Mandelson said: "The EU is in the unusual position of being on the edge of a
Doha argument rather than in the middle. Although we have obvious commercial
interests in these (developing country) markets for our processed
agricultural goods, we can live with the proposed safeguard levels. 

"The basic problem is that the Indians, the Chinese and other defensive
developing countries want the safeguard to be triggered at a level that the
US thinks is too low." 

The Doha round began in 2001 with a 2005 deadline set for a deal. But the
talks struggled on beyond the cut-off point, collapsing in acrimony in
mid-2006 over trade protectionism and trade barriers, then relaunched at the
start of 2007.

The issue has dominated Mandelson's political life since Tony Blair sent him
to Brussels as trade commissioner in 2004. 

Before the latest talks started, Mandelson said a deal would offer the only
glimmer of hope in the current economic gloom, specifically determining the
economic fate of developing nations and offering new global markets to rich
countries.

Mandelson said international agreements on climate change, food security and
energy use could depend on a Doha round accord - countering a mood clouded
by soaring inflation, high food and fuel prices, and high unemployment. 

International development agency Christian Aid today said blame for the
collapse lay squarely with major agricultural exporting countries "putting
self-interest above other considerations".

US trade representative Susan Schwab said: "We were so close to getting this
done." 

But she insisted she was not declaring the Doha round at an end. 

A verdict on the fate of the long-running negotiation is expected later from
director-general of the World Trade Organisation, Pascal Lamy, who is also
Mandelson's predecessor in the EU trade hot seat.

About this articleClose This article was first published on guardian.co.uk
on Tuesday July 29 2008. It was last updated at 19:23 on July 29 2008.





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