Friday, June 22, 2007

Global trade talks collapse again

Here is the unintentionally ironic quote of the day (via International Herald Tribune):
When you are in the leadership circle you have to lead by example and that's not what we are seeing.
-- U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab
The context, according to the newspaper's sources, is that the United States came to the talks with an offer to cap major trade-distorting subsidies at $17 billion, although current subsidies in this category are $11 billion, so the "cap" is not even a functioning cap at present.

In a revealing turn of phrase, the "leadership circle" Schwab criticized was not the United States or the European Union, but rather Brazil and India, the leading representatives of developing countries in these negotiations.

From the International Herald Tribune:
A high-level meeting aimed at salvaging sputtering global trade talks collapsed on Thursday as the United States and the European Union fell out with India and Brazil over plans to slash agricultural subsidies and tariffs.

The four members of the World Trade Organization were trying to break a persistent deadlock that has bedeviled the Doha round of negotiations since 2001: How deeply rich countries will slash the domestic farm subsidies that have distorted trade in commodities like cotton, sugar and corn.
The tragic inability to offer developing countries a pro-market route to economic development is one of the fruits of our refusal to reform agricultural subsidies here in the United States.

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