World trade talks fail as US clashes with new giants

by Dave

Scotsman.com News

MARATHON talks for a new global trade deal collapsed last night after a clash over agriculture between the United States, the world’s biggest economy, and emerging heavyweights.

The breakdown came on the ninth day as the US and India failed to find a compromise on measures intended to help poor countries protect their farmers against import surges, a diplomat said.

US trade representative Susan Schwab appeared downcast as she began to brief reporters.

She said negotiators were “so close on Friday”, but then stopped speaking. Asked if the entire Doha trade round was over, she said, “I didn’t say that” and walked away.

A number of trade officials described the debate pitting the US against
China and India as one of principle – and not just hard economics.
Others blamed a lack of courage for the stand-off.

“It is a jump
in the dark,” Celso Amorim, Brazil’s foreign minister, said before the
final efforts yesterday. “You can’t calculate until the very last
situation all the hypotheses. If you do that (the round) will never
finish. It will take two years, three years. It will probably be for a
new generation.”

The issue concerned a “special safeguard” that
developing countries, led by China and India, have demanded to deal
with a sudden surge of imports or drop in prices.

While farm
import safeguards exist in rich and poor countries, they are rarely
used. The dispute over the current proposals concerns the threshold for
when developing nations could sharply raise their tariffs, and by how
high those taxes could rise.

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