23rd Sep 2019

Last ditch meeting attempts to avert WTO trade fiasco

Trade ministers from major world economies have gathered in Geneva in a final attempt to save WTO talks on world trade liberalisation. No breakthrough was reported on the first day of negotiations on Sunday (23 July), with talks set to continue on Monday.

The world's six major trading powers - Australia, Brazil, the EU, India, Japan and the US, also known as the G6 – account for some three quarters of world trade.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"There was no movement at all on domestic support [of agriculture]. We will meet again tomorrow to see if things have changed overnight, whether new ideas have popped up," EU agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said, according to Reuters.

The two-day meeting in Geneva is the latest in a long line of last-ditch attempts to save the so-called Doha round of WTO [World Trade Organisation] talks, which has been on the negotiating table for the last five years.

Negotiators and trade experts warn that if a deal is not reached this summer, Doha will fail altogether.

A possible deal would still have to undergo six months of detailed work, while special US presidential powers to negotiate on trade will expire in 2007.

Previous meetings aimed at moving on the Doha agenda have been delayed by a key dispute between developing nations and the US and EU.

Developing nations want the EU and US to lower farming subsidies and tariffs, while Washington and Brussels want greater access to the manufactured goods markets of emerging countries.

To save the talks, the US must reduce the subsidies Washington pays to its farmers, while the EU must lower the duties on agriculture imports and the G-20 group of developing countries, led by Brazil and India, must open up access to its industrial markets, according to head of the WTO Pascal Lamy.

The EU has said it will only lower tariffs on agriculture imports once the US cuts its farm support.

However, EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said last week that "the US was the only major player to refuse to consider moving on this basis and declined to signal any room for further movement."

At the beginning of this month, a WTO ministerial meeting failed prompting Mr Lamy to say that the Doha trade negotiation is in a crisis.

The WTO's Doha round started in the capital of Qatar in 2001.

WTO in 'crisis' after talks fail, Lamy says

Another failed world trade deal meeting pushes the WTO into a crisis this weekend, prompting the head of the organisation, Pascal Lamy, to start up a new method of negotiating.

WTO chief critical of EU's bilateral trade deals

Bilateral trade agreements are likely to detract from the overall aim of a global trade pact with poorer countries losing out, World Trade Organisation chief Pascal Lamy has warned just as the EU is begining a series of bilateral initiatives.

Hungary tops EU anti-fraud investigation list

In its annual report, the EU's anti-fraud agency said it concluded nine investigations into Hungary and found irregularities in seven cases. In total, the agency recommended the recovery of €371m EU-wide.


Brexit row delays financial products transparency review

A European financial regulatory body set up after the financial crisis is at loggerheads with the European Commission over whether to carry out a transparency review of certain financial products. The reason: Brexit.

News in Brief

  1. Doubt cast on new Maltese inquiry into slain reporter
  2. March by Slovak Catholics seeks abortion ban
  3. 600,000 stranded on holiday as Thomas Cook collapses
  4. Egypt: hundreds of protesters arrested over weekend
  5. Global car industry fears no-deal Brexit shock
  6. France: de-escalation between US and Iran priority
  7. Spain demands UK 'reciprocity' on resident rights
  8. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'


Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  2. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  4. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  8. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  10. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  11. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  12. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us