The Corner

Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead…

… and so is the Doha Round of world trade talks. It should be noted that U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab is doing the best she can in a world that appears to have soured on globalization. She has also walked a difficult tightrope between what our trading partners want us to do to reduce farm subsidies (a lot) and Congress is willing to do (barely anything). 

Barack Obama supported the bloated new farm bill Congress passed last May, and he is the most openly protectionist major presidential candidate of the last 20 years. If he wins, I just don’t see how this round is ever successfully concluded. It could be a decade before we see any more progress on multilateral trade talks. 

USTR statement after the jump.

Statement from Ambassador Susan C. Schwab, U.S. Trade Representative

“While we made good progress during the past week, it is clear that despite our best efforts we will not be able to reach a breakthrough at this time.   

“There should be no question, we made important progress.  Even today, 5 of the 7 countries in the leadership group were prepared to accept the Friday proposal by Director General Lamy.  We gained insights into what members are prepared to offer on services at the signaling conference this weekend, greater clarity on what a modalities package might look like, and saw a constructive attitude in attempting to solve many other issues that have been preventing progress in the negotiations. 

“To ensure that the advances we made this week are not lost, the United States will continue to stand by our current offers, but we maintain that they are still contingent on others coming forward with ambitious offers that will create new market access. So far, that ambition is not evident.

“Regrettably, our negotiations deadlocked on the scope of a safeguard mechanism to remedy surges in imported agricultural products. 

“Any safeguard mechanism must distinguish between the legitimate need to address exceptional situations involving sudden and extreme import surges and a mechanism that can be abused. 

“In the face of a global food price crisis, we simply could not agree to a result that would raise more barriers to world food trade.

“Certain members sought increased flexibilities that would have allowed them to apply tariffs that, in some cases, would exceed their current WTO bindings.  This would have moved the global trading system backwards – exactly contrary to the purposes of a negotiation intended to expand trade and economic growth.   

“Throughout these negotiations, the United States has been strongly committed and willing to make the tough choices necessary to achieve an ambitious breakthrough.  Since the launch of the Round, we have worked tirelessly, traveling hundreds of thousands of miles, spending countless hours negotiating in good faith, all to sustain the Round and bring together a development outcome that would open new markets and create new trade flows.

“The United States remains committed to demonstrating the leadership necessary to achieve an ambitious result.  I look forward to conferring with my counterparts in the coming weeks as we work to achieve that outcome.”

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