Last-ditch attempts to save the World Trade Organisation’s so-called Doha Round of trade talks have collapsed. Ministers from the European Union, the United States, Brazil, Australia, Japan and India had met in Geneva to try to break the impasse without success.
WTO chief Pascal Lamy said that he would call a halt to the negotiations. EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson blamed the US for a lack of flexibility on farm subsidies: “I want to express the profound disappointment and sadness of the member states of the European Union – and of agriculture commissioner Marianne Fischer Boel and myself – that the world trade talks are having to be suspended today.”
US Trade Representative Susan Schwab in turn blamed the others. She said: “Unfortunately, the promised flexibility in market access coming from St Petersburg did not materialise in Geneva.” Whoever is to blame, the Indian Trade Minister Kamal Nath believes it could be months, or even years, before negotiations can restart.
He said the developing countries cannot accept opening their markets to subsidised agriculture products: “While the completion of the round is important, the content of the round is even more important and I look forward that with some reflection, developed countries will move towards correcting the structural flaws in global trade.” The extremely complex talks were supposed to lower trade barriers across all sectors thereby boosting the world economy and lifting millions of people out of poverty.