labels: economy - general, world trade organisation, agriculture
WTO talks doomed news
30 June 2006
Mumbai: Prospects of success at the crucial WTO mini-ministerial look bleak with the rich countries unable to deliver the promised fair trading rules five years after the Doha Round of world trade negotiations.

The developed rich countries had promised to make the global trade system fairer for poor countries by changing rules and help them reap the rewards of global commerce. Now the negotiations at the Geneva mini-ministerial appear to be reaching a dead-end.

With the US refusing to agree for wider cuts in farm subsidies, India, which represents the less developed countries, on Friday threatened to walk out of a meeting convened to thrash out thorny farm and non-farm tariff issues.

India's commerce minister Kamal Nath threatened to take the Saturday flight home if the US refused to offer deeper cuts on farm subsidies.

EU trade chief Peter Mandelson and officials from Brazil and India had pressed the US to offer deeper cuts in its farm subsidies. However, the US countered saying that EU must move first, by slashing import duties on farm goods.

With positions wide apart, representatives from about 60 countries who are taking part in the mini-ministerial meet are more divided now than when they started negotiations on Thursday.

The WTO has repeatedly missed its targets for a deal and its 149 members are under increasing pressure to complete the round by December 2006 as per the deadline fixed in Hong Kong last year.

The grouping of WTO heavyweights - the EU, Australia, Brazil, India, Japan and the United States (G6) - at the mini-ministerial also make negotiations even more difficult.

WTO chief Pascal Lamy had warned negotiators that after missing deadlines for almost five years, trading nations could no longer afford to duck a deal.

The talks, expected to last several days at the Geneva base of WTO, were called in an effort to revive the organisation's struggling Doha Round trade negotiations.

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WTO talks doomed