Ministers from around the world are to meet at the World Trade Organisation next week in an attempt to carry forward the long-delayed Doha round of negotiations for a global trade deal. If a deal is not bashed out on bringing down trade barriers in the core areas of agriculture and industrial goods, the round risks further years of delay.
Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said, “The chances for a breakthrough are improving but the breakthrough is not yet in the bag.”
Peter Mandelson faces a challenge not only in winning concessions in Geneva but also from within the EU. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has openly criticised Mandelson’s stance in the talks, claiming he is offering too much on agriculture in return for little from other WTO countries.
“ It’s not the first time in political career that I have been unfairly blamed and I suspect it won’t be the last, “ said the commissioner.
Meanwhile Mandelson has warned banana-exporting countries not to aggrevate the risk of Doha failure by pressuring the EU into bigger cuts to its import tariffs.
A WTO deal will be a shot in the arm for the global economy amid slowing growth, soaring inflation and collapsing housing markets.