Monday

30th Jan 2023

EU blames US for world trade talks collapse

  • Peter Mandelson - strong in his criticism of the US (Photo: European Community, 2005)

The EU has laid the blame for the collapse of international talks on liberalising world trade firmly at the US' door.

Speaking after the WTO meeting broke down on Monday, EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said the US "was unwilling to accept, or indeed to acknowledge, the flexibility being shown by others in the room and, as a result, felt unable to show any flexibility on the issue of farm subsidies".

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"Having been mandated by heads of government at the G8 to come together to indicate further flexibility, I felt that each of us did, except the United States", he continued.

Mr Mandelson also indicated that he felt that the world trade talks had missed the last opportunity to come to fruition having already suffered serious setbacks and delays over the last months.

"We have missed the last exit on the motorway", said the commissioner.

The weekend trade talks between Australia, Brazil, the EU, India, Japan and the US had been called by WTO head Pascal Lamy in a bid to try and get movement towards an agreement before the summer break.

But on Sunday, US trade negotiator Susan Schwab attacked the state of the negotiations.

"Unfortunately things became clear yesterday that 'Doha light' seems still to be the preferred option of some of the participants," said Ms Schwab referring to the name of the current round of talks.

Mr Lamy then called the meeting to a halt on Monday after discussions stalled.

EU and US both to blame

But international aid agency Oxfam was quick to undercut any grandstanding by the EU or the US over the failure of the talks saying it was due to both blocs not conceding enough on their farm subsidies.

"These talks are going nowhere because the United States and the European Union refuse to stop dumping by cutting real money from their agricultural support, while demanding that developing countries continue to open up their markets" said Celine Charveriat, head of Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign.

Indian Trade Minister Kamal Nath said "it could take anywhere from months to years," to restart negotiations, according to Reuters while Australian trade minister Mark Vaile is reported in Australian media as saying that talks could be delayed for up to five years.

Oxfam said that a delay in the talks damages poor nations the most, while rich nations are simply able to continue subsidising their farmers and dumping goods on developing nations markets.

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