Wednesday, July 30, 2008

GLOBE GRABBERS SET BACK AS TRADE TALKS FAIL

Al Jazeera - High level talks to rescue a global trade pact have collapsed after the US, China and India failed to compromise on farm import rules, trade officials say. Pascal Lamy, head of the World Trade Organization, said the talks in Geneva, Switzerland, failed because members of the organisation "have simply not been able to bridge their differences".

However, he said ministers wanted him to revive the talks quickly and he would not "throw in the towel". . .

Al Jazeera's Rob Reynolds said the failure seemed to reflect a growing feeling against trade agreements around the world. . .

The talks were launched seven years ago in Doha, Qatar, but have repeatedly stalled amid deep divisions between rich and poor nations.

It is not clear when the talks will resume, although Celso Amorim, the Brazilian foreign minister, said it could take three or four years.

Mandelson said he saw no real chance of resolving core issues in the foreseeable future, and the forthcoming US elections and a change in the leadership of the EU Commission could sideline the talks or see priorities change. . .

Talks stalled over a "special safeguard mechanism" - a proposal to let developing countries raise farm tariffs in the face of a surge in imports or a collapse in prices.

Developing nations such as India say they needed the measure to protect millions of subsistence farmers from market uncertainty created by opening up their borders.

However, the US feared its own farmers would lose new markets just as it made painful cuts in its farm subsidies and accused China and India of insisting on allowances to raise farm tariffs above even their current levels. . .

Kamal Nath, India's commerce minister, rejected the claim, saying "the US is looking at enhancing its commercial interests whereas I am looking at protecting the livelihood of farmers".

Developing country food exporters such as Costa Rica and Uruguay also said the measure would have cut them off from key markets and even reduced existing trade.

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