Saturday

18th Jan 2020

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 20 years of archives. 30-day 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.

Feature

Promises and doubts: Africa's free-trade adventure

The EU is hoping that a continent-wide free trade agreement in Africa will help lift millions out of poverty and help solve issues of security and migration. But its message of values and equal partnership do not resonate with everyone.

Interview

EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration

Europe's obsession with migration from Africa means it risks losing out the continent's potential when it comes to trade, says the EU's ambassador to the African Union, Ranier Sabatucci. "Africa is a growing continent, it is the future," he says.

News in Brief

  1. 'No objection in principle' on Huawei cooperation, EU says
  2. French aircraft carrier goes to Middle East amid tensions
  3. EU suggests temporary ban on facial recognition
  4. EU industry cries foul on Chinese restrictions
  5. 'Devil in detail', EU warns on US-China trade deal
  6. Trump threatened EU-tariffs over Iran, Germany confirms
  7. EU trade commissioner warns UK of 'brinkmanship'
  8. Germany strikes coal phase-out deal

Feature

Promises and doubts: Africa's free-trade adventure

The EU is hoping that a continent-wide free trade agreement in Africa will help lift millions out of poverty and help solve issues of security and migration. But its message of values and equal partnership do not resonate with everyone.

Opinion

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. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us