Archive for Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Global trade talks collapse

July 25, 2006

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— In the end, there was finger pointing and plenty of blame to spread around for the collapse of world trade liberalization talks on Monday.

But what it boiled down to is that a deal touted as a way to lift millions of people around the world out of poverty floundered because six of the World Trade Organization's most powerful members failed to find ways to liberalize trade in farm and manufactured goods.

"We are in dire straits," said Pascal Lamy, director-general of the WTO after members called a halt to more than five years of commerce liberalization talks.

There was no new timetable for completing the round. Lamy said he did not intend to propose any new deadlines or a date for negotiators to resume meeting.

The 25-nation European Union criticized U.S. intransigence over agricultural subsidies for the breakdown, while the United States blamed Brazil and India for being inflexible on cutting barriers to industrial imports and the EU for refusing to make deeper cuts in its farm import tariffs.

Last week, presidents and prime ministers from the Group of Eight leading industrialized countries called a new trade deal a top priority. But that promise did not translate into real negotiating action during two days of meetings facilitated by Lamy between Australia, Brazil, the EU, India, Japan and the United States.

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