The United States, the European Union, and Japan recently said that they were ready to negotiate in order to help break the deadlock in the global trade talks. The three parties though reiterated that they were only willing to do so if the other key players offered sufficient concessions. The members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) were supposed to come up with an outline of an agreement last July. But the global trade talks collapsed for once again due to irreconcilable differences among the members.
However, the US, the EU, and Japan, which are the world’s leading economies, made promises separately to help save the trade discussions during the recent Cairn Summit held in Australia. Established in 1986, Cairn Group consists of 18 farm-exporting countries and aims to eliminate trade barriers in the agricultural sector. While the members of the bloc focused on the expansion of agricultural trade, they also tackled the resumption of the stalled global trade talks.
EU Ambassador to the WTO Carlo Trojan commented that Brussels is willing to do its best in order to ensure the completion of the global trade talks. Mr. Trojan said though that the chances of success in the negotiations are rather slim. In response to the calls of WTO Director General Pascal Lamy for more concessions on the part of wealthier and more powerful countries, the ambassador said that the 25 EU member states have given Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson the mandate to compromise during the discussions.
US Trade Representative Susan Schwab also indicated that the US was set to adjust its position in order to fuel the global trade talks. According to Ms. Schwab, the US’ trade proposal was still negotiable and that her country was willing to offer more cuts in farm subsidies provided that the other key players would make the same effort.
Likewise, Japanese Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said that Japan was prepared to improve its offer if the Cairns Group and the US made more concessions. He said that if the other key players in the global trade talks offered more reductions on farm subsidies and import tariffs, Japan would also follow.
Mr. Trojan said that Mr. Mandelson was scheduled to visit the US later this week in order to discuss with farm lobbyists and political leaders regarding EU’s position in the global trade talks. It must be noted that the US would be having its Congressional elections in November. The results of the elections are crucial in determining whether the negotiating authority the Bush administration currently possesses would be extended or would expire in mid-2007.
Meanwhile, US Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns stated that his country has already made major offers on the reduction of subsidies in the global trade talks, but it has not seen the EU make a similar move. The US has long been asking the EU to provide more access to its markets.
The Doha Development Round of talks was launched in 2001 at the Qatari capital. The global trade talks have been aimed at eliminating trade barriers in order to promote free trade, which, the WTO members believe, is key to resolving poverty in many countries.