Thursday

24th Sep 2020

World trade talks deadline set to be missed

  • "We will move on farm aid if the US does so too", said EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson (Photo: European Commission)

Both EU and US officials claim they are prepared to make the concessions needed to wrap up the current world trade talks despite a missed 30 April deadline.

This week's meeting of the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) ministers was cancelled due to a lack of progress among negotiators, necessary for an overall deal on world trade liberalisation scheduled for the end of the year.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The 30 April deadline was agreed by ministers from 150 countries gathered in Hong Kong last December, as a way to complete a deal before the expiry of trade legislation in the US next summer.

But EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson hinted on Wednesday (26 April) that he might still make concessions on the most controversial issue in the trade talks package - EU aid for farmers - if Washington made a similar move.

"If the circumstances allow - if key partners put something worthwhile on the table - the EU will be prepared to further enhance our current agricultural offer," Mr Mandelson told journalists.

"If the US is similarly willing ... to negotiate further on its agriculture offer, this is an important advance," he added.

But Washington has been following the same tactics - asking the EU to put a better offer on the table first.

"We've always said that the offer we put on the table in October on domestic support was conditional on other members improving their offers on market access," Peter Allgeier, the US ambassador to the WTO, told AFP.

British media report that UK prime minister Tony Blair is pessimistic about the chances of the international community making a deal by Sunday, and has spoken several times to US president George Bush about what should be done next.

"It is very bleak. This is what we predicted all along, that the process in Geneva wouldn't deliver and that trade negotiators would be unable to unblock the logjam," UK daily Guardian quoted one Downing Street official as saying.

French officials have suggested the WTO should rather drop the Doha round agenda and go for less ambitious goals.

But a leading charity group Oxfam argues in a fresh report that developing countries should rather miss the deadline and wait for a better offer to emerge.

"No deadline is hard enough to justify signing a new trade deal that is going to undermine development. Although a slow round would prolong existing imbalances, it could at least prevent things from getting worse," Oxfam stated.

World trade talks enter last chance saloon

Ministers from across the world will meet in Geneva on Friday to reach an agreement to what some have called the last chance for a successful deal in the so-called Doha round of global trade talks.

Belarus opposition leader urges EU to be 'braver'

The Belarus oppositon leader asked the EU not to support the Belarus authorities financially, and not to recognise Lukashenko as the country's president when his term ends in November.

Cyprus leaves EU ministers red-faced on Belarus

EU foreign ministers will have nothing to show Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya when they meet her in Brussels on Monday, after Cyprus blocked sanctions.

News in Brief

  1. Belgium: masks no longer mandatory from October
  2. Report: China built 380 Muslim internment camps
  3. Belgian government formation in final phase
  4. Lukashenko sworn in at secret ceremony
  5. Study: No-deal Brexit more costly than corona for UK
  6. Polish miners in underground protest against energy plan
  7. EU animal farming emits more CO2 than cars
  8. Navalny leaves Berlin hospital after poisoning attempt

Feature

The Hagia Sophia and the global battle of symbols

The Turkish president's decision to restart Islamic worship services in Istanbul's Hagia Sophia last Friday is not innocent. So how should we react? By doing the opposite - and make Cordoba's famous Mosque/Cathedral in Cordoba a museum.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. EU migration pact to deter asylum
  2. 'Era of EU naivety ends', MEP pledges on foreign meddling
  3. Anti-mask protesters pose challenge for EU authorities
  4. EU 'failed' to safeguard civic freedoms during pandemic
  5. The corruption fuelling the Bulgaria protests
  6. EU countries stuck on rule of law-budget link
  7. EU states struggle to better sync Covid-19 measures
  8. EP groups drop homophobe from Sakharov prize

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us