Monday, July 24, 2006

The Road To Irrelevance

It's paved with obstinance, arrogance and incompetence. There were six entities involved in the talks, the United States, the European Union, Brazil, Australia, Japan and India. The talks had been ongoing for five years. They're over now. The EU, India and Japan are publicly blaming US intransigience for the collapse of the talks. AP (07.24.06):
"Global commerce talks at the World Trade Organization collapsed Monday as top powers failed to agree on steps toward liberalizing trade in farm and manufactured goods. Indian Trade Minister Kamal Nath said the talks had been suspended and added that 'it could take anywhere from months to years,' to restart the negotiations. 'This is a serious setback, a major setback,' said Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim." WTO Talks Collapse Over Disputes
"EU trade chief Peter Mandelson blamed the failure on the United States." "'The United States judged that it would be better for the process to be discontinued at this stage,' he said. 'This action has led to the round being suspended.'" US Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns blamed "Brazil and India for being inflexible on their refusal to cut barriers to industrial imports and [blamed] the EU for refusing to open up its farm markets." Which is confusing in that at the same time Mike was saying the US "could increase its offer to cut subsidies to American farmers", he also was refusing to say "whether the U.S. team had made a concrete proposal." Peter Mandelson was pissed. Bloomberg (07.24.06):
"'The U.S. was unwilling to accept or even acknowledge the flexibility of others shown in the room,' EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson told a news conference in Geneva after two days of talks." WTO Six-Way Talks Collapse, Jeopardizing Global Pact
"The administration of George W. Bush believes it is 'entitled to compensation dollar for dollar, for the farm subsidies they lose, from developing countries in the form of new market access,' Mandelson said. Until the U.S. recognizes that it must overhaul its farm-aid policies, 'I don't see how we can resume' talks, he said." India was also pissed. "The U.S. was the sole government among the six not to improve its offer, Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said. 'It's very clear that the EU made a movement, and everybody put something on the table except for one country, who said we can't see anything on the table,' he told reporters."


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