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Global trade negotiations in
"While we made good progress during the past week," said Ambassador Susan Schwab in a statement on Tuesday, "it is clear that despite our best efforts we will not be able to reach a breakthrough at this time."(Listen to audio from the event. It runs approximately 40 minutes.)
There was a lot of hype as always heading into the latest round of intense negotiations. And there was even a little optimism last Friday when
Prior to the meeting the
What ended up being one of the major sticking points on the issue of the rules for Special Safeguard Mechanisms (SSM). "The proposed deal on SSM would have allowed developing countries a virtually unchecked ability to close their markets to any further growth in trade in agricultural products almost at will. This became the deal breaker for the
Lamy told a press conference afterwards that out of a "to-do list" of 20 topics, 18 had seen positions converge but the gaps could not narrow on the 19th — the special safeguard mechanism for developing countries, which would allow developing countries to raise tariffs temporarily in order to deal with import surges and price falls.
The difference boiled down to some wanting a high "trigger" (a large import surge needed to trigger the tariff increase) in order to avoid the safeguard being triggered by normal trade growth, while others wanted a lower trigger so that the safeguard could be easier to use and more useful, he said.
"After more than 36 hours trying to find bridges between these two positions, today it became clear that the differences were irreconcilable. The remaining issues, including cotton, were not even negotiated," Lamy said.
Not over yet?
The talks' failure does not mean the end of the Doha Round. Lamy told an informal meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee that he remains convinced that what is on the table represents twice or three times more than has been achieved in any previous multilateral trade negotiation. Much was achieved in these meetings, he said.
Lamy reported to the General Council on Thursday, July 31 that the Trade Negotiations Committee heard the day before "multiple strong calls for preserving the package that had been so painfully negotiated in order to conclude this Round successfully." He said there is no doubt that "looking at what is on the table now, members believe that the Doha Round is still worth fighting for." (Click here for his audio comments.)
The likelihood of bringing
Also this week a senior Brazilian official stated the country is considering making a formal complaint against
The issue of ethanol tariffs emerged in the latest round of WTO talks. In the final days,
The 54-cent ethanol import tariff was extended as part of the 2008 Farm Bill. Ethanol supporters say the tariff counters the 51-cent blenders' credit and encourages domestic production.