The Bush Administration’s quid pro quo of early-on steel protectionism in exchange for fast track negotiating authority for the Doha Round seems like a bad bet (May 24) in retrospect.
GENEVA (Reuters) – Global free trade talks, billed as a once in a generation chance to boost growth and ease poverty, collapsed on Monday after nearly five years of haggling and resuming them could take years.
The suspension of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha round came after major trading powers failed in a last-ditch bid to overcome differences on reforming world farm trade, which lies at the heart of the round.
“The WTO negotiations are suspended,” Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath told journalists. When asked how long the suspension could last, he replied: “Anywhere from months to years.”
The round, launched in the Qatari capital in 2001, stumbled from the start over how far rich nations would go to dismantle their huge farm subsidies and open up their markets.
Fourteen hours of talks between the so-called G6 — the United States the European Union, Brazil, Australia, Japan and India — yielded no breakthrough on Sunday on the question.
The European Union and India firmly pointed the finger at the United States for the final breakdown, saying that Washington had been demanding too high a price for cutting into the some $20 billion it spends annually on farm subsidies.
Accusing the United States of “stone-walling,” EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said: “Surely the richest and strongest nation in the world, with the highest standards of living, can afford to give as well as take.”
But the United States was adamant neither the EU nor India had been prepared to offer the sort of access to their markets that Washington needs to make a deal on subsidies worthwhile.
It has said all along it preferred no deal to one that brought it no new business.