US voices misgivings on WTO''s new draft on global

27 Jul 2007


The US has voiced its serious misgivings about the new draft for a global trade deal that will be debated by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 3 September, but has said that it would continue serious and concerted efforts to find a deal after years of talks.

The new draft has been criticised for lacking clarity in the three key areas of agriculture, non-farm manufacturing and services.

The WTO has been trying to bring an agreement to its current round of free trade talks, which began in Doha in 2001, without much success as developed nations and less-developed countries have clashed over tariffs levels, the amount of state aid given to key industries, and the level of access to markets.

Apart from the logjam between the US, the EU and other developing nations, the US Congress is strongly opposed to the global trade deal, and has refused to extend the "fast-track" negotiating authority of President George Bush to assent to any trade deal.

However, WTO''s director general Pascal Lamy has expressed the view that a trade deal could be very close. "We have already come a long way in this round, and the distance left to go is not so great. But it will require an extra effort," he added.

Lamy has said that finalising the deal would need compromises on all sides, intensive work and an undertaking to negotiate with all the nations involved in the talks.

He added that a month still remained in which to iron out any problems that may arise and ahead of the WTO talks due in September. "It is important that everybody be fit and ready on the starting line at that time," he said.

The US, represented by its ambassador Peter Allgeier, agreed that the draft plans had managed to move the debate forward, but said that it still has serious concerns with some of the content in each of the draft texts.

In a statement Allgeier, said, "Both the draft texts serve to underscore what the US believes is a continuing fundamental, and still unmet, challenge of the Doha negotiations.

For the US there is no higher international trade priority than a successful conclusion of an ambitious Doha round — securing a strong market-opening that will result in meaningful new economic opportunities and trade flows worldwide in agriculture, industrial goods and services.

He said that the only way to achieve success and meet the development goals of Doha was through a result that actually expands international trade. "We will come to the table prepared to carry forward our work, fully equipped with the will and flexibility necessary. We ask that our trading partners do likewise."

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