Jun 15, 2008

WTO: More Optimism

This time from the US. According to this report from the IHT getting an outcome this year is relatively easy.

"We are still concentrating on completing a successful round this year, and I actually think we can do it, given the nature of discussions we are having and the kinds of issues that are out there," Allgeier said.
"It's coming down to some very basic political decisions," Allgeier said, adding that if emerging trade powers such as Brazil, Argentina and South Africa expect the United States to cut its farm subsidies, then they will have to be forthcoming on nonagricultural tariffs.

But will an agreement get through the Congress this year (election year)?

Skeptics who say that any U.S. offer of cutting farm payments will fail to pass a Democrat-controlled U.S. Congress were wrong, he said.
Last week Brazil, India and other developing countries slammed the new U.S. farm bill as a major obstacle to a successful global trade deal. The criticism mirrored earlier comments by WTO chief Pascal Lamy who said the US$290 billion (€189 billion) package sent a "bad signal" to the world while the Doha talks continue.
"If we have a package that has enough in it for us, we go back to the Congress and we change the farm bill," Allgeier said.
"If we are able to conclude the negotiations this year, it will be very difficult for any Congress to turn their backs on an agreement that has been negotiated with 152 of our very best friends," he said in an appearance before an American business group in Geneva.
The North American Free Trade Agreement and a previous WTO round had both been negotiated by a Republican U.S. administration and passed with a Democratic majority in Congress, he added.
U.S. President George W. Bush, who leaves office in January, has expressed strong support for a Doha deal.