Jul 11, 2008

WTO: Initial Reaction To New Texts


Wealthy nations must improve their offers in the latest batch of negotiating texts for the long-running Doha round of trade talks to reach a deal, Brazil said on Thursday.
"The WTO papers will only produce a deal if the rich countries improve their offer, showing leadership and reducing trade barriers," said Roberto Azevedo, Brazil's chief trade negotiator.
Reacting to new texts circulated on Thursday that will serve as the blueprint for a deal at the World Trade Organization, Azevedo also said rich countries need to further reduce overall subsidy levels in agriculture and back off plans to create new import tariffs.
WTO Director General Pascal Lamy has called this month's meeting in the hopes of reaching a breakthrough in agriculture and manufactured goods trade that would lead to a final deal by the end of the year.

Canada (this guy Ritz is a real cracker!)

Canada said there is still much work to be done to resolve "wide gaps" in countries' positions in the Doha Round of world trade talks, reacting to new negotiating texts that were circulated in Geneva on Thursday.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz reaffirmed Ottawa's rejection of calls for it to lower barriers on certain sensitive agricultural products that it wants to protect from foreign competition.
"There is still much work to be done to resolve outstanding issues. Wide gaps continue to separate many countries' negotiating positions," Ritz said in a statement.
The texts released by World Trade Organization mediators are meant to serve as a blueprint for an outline deal to open global trade in agriculture and goods. Ministers will discuss the texts during the week of July 21 in what has been billed as a make-or-break meeting.
Ritz showed no sign of backing down on resistance to opening up Canada's poultry and dairy sectors, as has been proposed in the WTO negotiating texts. Canadian dairy and poultry producers benefit from a decades-old marketing and pricing scheme known as "supply management."
"Canada continues to stand strong for our supply-managed sectors," Ritz said.
"We firmly oppose proposals for any over quota tariff cuts or tariff quota expansion for sensitive products," he said.

EU - more positive

The European Commission said on Thursday it welcomed positive steps made in new negotiating texts on a hoped-for global free trade deal but added that important gaps still needed to be bridged.
"Some positive steps have been made which we welcome. But there are important gaps that still need to be bridged," a spokesman for European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said.
"We are committed to this negotiation, but we need serious efforts from our negotiating partners to reach a balanced agreement," the spokesman said in a statement.

US - most positive

The United States said Thursday it was "ready and willing to make our contribution" to help revive a stalled global trade deal on the basis of new guidelines released by the World Trade Organization.
"We will be reviewing the revised texts in the coming days," said Gretchen Hamel of the office of US Trade Representative (USTR) Susan Schwab.
She said Schwab "looks forward to meeting with ministers in Geneva the week of July 21" to help advance the stalled Doha Round of talks to further liberalize global trade.
"The US is committed to concluding a successful Doha Round this year that achieves new market access for agricultural and industrial products and services in both developed and emerging market economies," Hamel said.
"The key to success will be everyone's willingness to contribute to a strong outcome that delivers new economic opportunities worldwide. The US is ready and willing to make our contribution. It's time the world's largest and fastest growing economies make market-opening contributions commensurate with their increasing participation and role in the world economy."