International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

August 10, 2004

August 10, 2004





**  The WTO's "historic compromise"  to re-launch global trade talks raises "fresh hope." 


**  Critics claim the "vague" agreements are not enough, but still "better than nothing."


**  Because of the upcoming U.S. elections, demonstrable progress may have to wait.




'Now the real haggling begins'--  The framework agreement in Geneva was an "historic moment" that successfully "prevented the collapse" of multilateral trade discussions.  The accord overcame the "major obstacle" of farm subsidies and gave the talks "a new drive," which may eventually allow "producers from developing countries to strengthen their competitiveness vis-à-vis richer nations," said Italy's centrist La Stampa.  With developing countries "no longer the silent majority," the U.S. and EU learned from the failed Cancun talks to compromise and show "political willingness" to eradicate agricultural subsidies.  The "well worthwhile" effort towards "economic disarmament" will in the long term become a "contribution to global wealth," said Germany's right-of-center Die Welt.  Indonesia's nationalistic Harian Merdeka noted that despite the lack of concrete plans, the compromise "shed a light" indicating that multilateral cooperation "will bring about more benefits than damages."


The future is 'far from hurdle-free'--  Critics argued that the achievement in Geneva "does not mean that the problems are over," citing as an example the "lack of deadlines" for fulfillment.  Due to a number of "skillfully maintained ambiguities," evidence of any "substantial results" is scarce, indicating the talks were "only a beginning."  Many dailies were skeptical of the talks, saying it is "premature to estimate how much each nation may benefit" from the negotiations.  "The agricultural gravy train is starting to run out of steam," added Britain's left-of-center Guardian, "even if the brakes have not yet been applied."  Canada's conservative National Post minimized the outcome of the talks, pointing out that "the main achievement was that the WTO will continue negotiations and has agreed on what to negotiate."  A Brazilian writer argued there was still "a long way to go" towards true free trade.


U.S. elections may delay talks--  Analysts worldwide did not foresee quick action, however, expecting "nothing significant" to happen until after the U.S. presidential election.  They questioned whether the progress made would "survive the protectionist cauldron" of November.  Setting all achievements aside, observers claimed the U.S. is "in no position to talk serious trade reform" until after the elections, predicting that regardless of the electoral outcome, trade talks would be "halted for months."  France's left-of-center Le Monde observed that the U.S. "cannot afford to sign an agreement" to end farm subsidies, as it would turn rural states against President Bush "in the throes of an election campaign."  Citing significant political influence in the negotiations, a conservative Australian outlet stated that farm subsidies in the U.S. "remain a hurdle" for free trade, especially "when a Republican president is facing an election." 


EDITOR:  Rachid Chaker


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 69 reports from 21 countries ranging from July 31 - August 5, 2004.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Still On The Road"


The left-of-center Guardian declared (8/2):  "In theory there ought to be celebration because rich countries have agreed to scrap agricultural subsidies, the main source of bitterness among developing nations....  The agricultural gravy train is starting to run out of steam even if the brakes have not yet been applied."


"Freedom To Farm"


The conservative Times editorialized (8/2):  "The document that emerged in Geneva yesterday is no more than an outline 'work program'....  Its 17 pages must now be converted into detail, binding agreements running to hundreds of pages....  The risk now is that, between the changing of the guard at the EU Commission and the U.S. elections, momentum will be lost.  With all their protectionist flaws, they remain the principal guardians of free trade.  They must not falter."


"Minor Miracle In Geneva"


The independent Financial Times editorialized (8/2):  "Faced with the prospect of the alternative, even governments that have grown disenchanted with the WTO's long-winded and cumbersome procedures decided to swallow their misgivings and make one more push.  The effort was well worthwhile....  The reassuring message from Geneva is that governments now have a better understanding of why it is in their common interest to tackle it."


"Rich Countries Must Give More If They Are Serious About Creating A Global Free Market"


The center-left Independent observed (8/2):  "The only tangible achievement in Geneva was agreement to continue negotiating.  There is now a framework within which the three highly divisive subjects will be discussed: agriculture, industrial goods and customs procedures....  But it has revived the vision of global free trade, and that is no mean feat.  As the real bargaining begins, the rich countries must approach their task with considerably more generosity than they took to the opening of the new trade round in Doha three years ago.  The time when there is one law for the rich and another for the poor is running out."


FRANCE:  "Hesitant Agreement"


The unsigned editorial in left-of-center Le Monde said (8/3):  "The agreement reached in Geneva over the weekend has been called historic...and the various negotiators, American Robert Zoellick, European Pascal Lamy and Brazilian Celso Amorim all seem to agree.  The French delegation, however, appeared isolated and gave the impression of having been forced to sign the agreement....  Indeed there are a number of skillfully maintained ambiguities in the text that will have to be worked out, and it will be difficult....  Not only due to the hatred that Jacques Chirac has for Pascal Lamy...who will be replaced as European commissioner in November...but also because Mr. Zoellick represents an administration that is in the throes of an election campaign and cannot afford to sign an agreement that will turn the rural states against it.  Even if John Kerry wins the election, the talks will be halted for months and the negotiations will be delayed."


"World Trade Re-Launched"


Renaud Girard opined in right-of-center Le Figaro (8/2):  "A new map of world trade is being drawn around four poles: the U.S., the EU, the G20 and the G90....  The U.S. and the EU were blamed by the others for protectionism in terms of their farming industries.… The Americans have finally accepted to do away with all export subsidies that hinder global trade...and the EU has confirmed before the WTO that it will continue to reform the Common Agricultural Policy.… The Geneva talks have effectively re-launched the Doha round.… Historically, protectionism has never been a policy that pays off in the long term. International trade is like a ‘win-win game,’ the benefits always outweigh the losses."


"Two Lessons From The WTO Talks"


Jean-Marc Vitorri wrote in economic, right-of-center Les Echos (8/2):  “It is better to have a highway with only one lane open than a highway that is closed off to traffic.  In the same way, the agreement reached in better than nothing.  At least it means that we can continue to move forward.… We will put behind us the twisted negotiations, the crazy compromises and the little injustices that make up the final text; this is the very nature of negotiations.  It is because hundreds of subjects are discussed simultaneously by hundreds of people that in the end there is an agreement that satisfies no one but that everyone signs.… The first lesson we can draw from the Geneva talks is that WTO negotiations are increasingly complex.… each time around there are new actors to take into account.… The second lesson has to do with the fact that France’s position is incoherent.… Jacques Chirac cannot pose himself both as the indiscriminate protector of French farmers and universal defender of developing countries.”


GERMANY:  "Dumping Of Agricultural Products Will Be Of No Use For Any One"


Peter Gillies judged in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (8/3):  "Those who consider the Geneva agreement only an easing of the burden on farmers in their own countries are too shortsighted.  The economic disarmament, for which a framework has now been made…is a contribution to global wealth."


"Still Better Than Nothing"


P. Reimer commented on the national radio station Deutschlandfunk of Cologne (8/2):  "The WTO still functions.  But nevertheless, one country one vote?  Democratic decision-making structures in the WTO?  Forget about it.  The basis for the agreement in Geneva was again the wheeling and dealing of the powerful nations in the backrooms....  This is why too much euphoria is not appropriate about the agreement in Geneva, even among those who seriously think global trade could help every one if they only make the right steps....  In purely bilateral liberalization agreements many developing nations would have worse cards.  The pressure that the United States exerted on Thailand because of the production of cheap generics for the AIDS therapy is only one example.  The EU, too, is not the Samaritan, which it pretends to be, of the poor countries either.  This is why the most recent WTO agreement, irrespective of all the criticism of globalization, still better than nothing."


"Dull Crisis Managers"


Konrad Mrusek opined in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (8/2):  "In an emergency situation, even trade policy experts are modest and act according to the slogan:  a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.  Some describe the framework agreement of the Doha Round that was approved by the WTO in Geneva as historic; but this is too much.  It saves the round from an early paralysis but does not create momentum for the second stage of the negotiations.  Since the guidelines of the talks are too vague and many controversial points were postponed, the dispute over a lowering of tariffs and subsidy cuts will become even tougher later.  Because of the lack of precise agreements of the current interim agreement, we will know only in two to three years the extent of the market opening and to what extent prosperity will rise because of a more intense division of labor....  The concessions in agriculture are not an ethically motivated sacrifice of the wealthy; they are an overdue correction.  It is simply impossible to preach market economy and then pursue protectionism."


"Globalization For All"


Alexander Hagelueken commented in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (8/2):  "Another failure would have jeopardized the WTO as an institution.  It would have remained a referee for trade conflicts but hardly the basis for a globally valid lowering of tariffs....  This danger has been averted for the time being, because Europeans and Americans have changed their tactics.  In the past, the Third World appeared only in solemn speeches, but when Brazil and India focused on this phrase and fought for power at the negotiating table in Cancun, the West reacted helplessly and the talks failed.  In Geneva, the United States and the EU acknowledged realities and included the new heavy weights in the talks with a heavy heart....  There is a tough path to a fair globalization.  It is not enough for the West to cut subsidies.  Threshold countries like China will primarily profit from it.  The developing nations themselves must reduce trade barriers, and the weak nations mainly need an opening of markets.  They need time to develop competitive products, since otherwise, they will be overrun by globalization.  Global trade needs more development assistance than before:  today, the West spends six times as much on its farmers than it spends on its poor."


"Historic Compromise"


Jan Dirk Herbermann argued in a front-page editorial in business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (8/2):  "With this agreement, the World Trade Round gets a new momentum....  In view of the destructive power game the stronger side had to give in, and that was the EU.  It should now cut the much-loved premiums, subsidies, and grants for farmers.  Then the poor in the world would no longer have a pretext to seal themselves off from other markets.  And in a few years, maybe even in 2005, the WTO countries could sign a new world trade agreement.  The global economy would then be able to profit from the giant sum of 500 billion dollars to increase wealth.  The long-term perspectives are even more tempting:  hundreds of millions of people in the developing nations could free themselves from poverty through fair and free trade.  At the same time, the calls for more development assistance would calm down.  A new chance is now developing."


ITALY:  "WTO, Historic Pact To Liberalize World Trade"


Giorgio Levi wrote in centrist, influential La Stampa (8/2):  "A historic accord was signed between Saturday and Sunday at a WTO plenary session in Geneva.  After initial setbacks, intense arguing and differing opinions, the 147 member-states reached an agreement to restart negotiations on the liberalization of international trade laws....  It took 15 hours of protracted debate before the members were ready to draft and sign the accord.  A fair compromise was negotiated regarding agriculture, a topic that has consistently been a sticking point.  The accord allows producers from developing countries to strengthen their competitiveness vis-à-vis richer nations."


AUSTRIA:  "Saving Face"


Editor of liberal Der Standard Leo Szemeliker commented (8/2):  "Ever since the [Cancun] summit of the WTO...spectacularly failed last September, observers worldwide have asked themselves:  what are the lessons to be learned from this debacle?...  For Geneva, the script has been improved.  The borderline countries as well as the 90 poorest states of the world were included from the beginning when it came to formulating the discussion papers....  The industrialized countries did not prioritize topics like investment protection, and instead put more emphasis on agriculture--a major point of controversy in world trade since the summit in Seattle.  This can be seen as a signal of the EU’s goodwill....  The crucial negotiations in which details about quantities, numbers, deadlines, percentages and sensitive products are to follow in the fall.  Then we will see whether the term 'historic breakthrough’, often used over the weekend for its symbolism, is also a potential reality."


BELGIUM:  "Developing Countries Are No Longer A Silent Majority"


EU affairs writer Jim Lannoo stated in independent financial daily De Tijd (8/2):  "Last year it became clear that the developing countries are no longer the silent majority on which Europe and the United States can impose their will and laws.  The developing countries have grouped together.  Large countries like India and Brazil form the G20.  The G90 represents poor and smaller developing countries.  Those countries have discovered the power of numbers and carry weight in the talks in Geneva.  That is reflected by the concessions that Europe and the United States had to make: they decreased their agricultural subsidies to make the developing countries accept further trade talks.  The increasing number of WTO member states, the large impact of the developing countries, the opposing interests between developing and industrial countries and the heavy negotiation procedures in the WTO are factors that will not make a new trade round easier.  When the final figures and terms are filled in, it will be clear how large last weekend's breakthrough was."  


IRELAND: "Towards A Fairer World"


Center-right, populist daily Irish Independent commented (8/2):  "An agreement was hammered out at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva over the weekend which seems, on the face of it, to be a positive development for the world economy and especially for the economies of the developing world.  Often we think that the best way to help poorer countries is to increase direct aid to them....  However, direct aid is not the best way to assist poorer countries.  For a start, if not very carefully monitored the aid can go directly into the pockets of the corrupt regimes that rule many of these countries.  Secondly, the amount of good that can be achieved through direct aid is dwarfed by what can be achieved through free trade.  This is what made the World Trade Organisation talks, that ended on Saturday, so important....  Unfortunately most countries enter these talks seeking to maximise their own advantage....  In the end a compromise was reached.  Western countries will cut farm subsidies while developing countries will reduce the tariffs they impose on manufactured goods from the developed world.  The World Bank estimates that if all countries cut their tariffs it would add U.S. $520 billion to the world economy by 2015 and most of this would go to poorer countries.  The sooner this happens, the better."


THE NETHERLANDS:  "Proceeding With Doha"


Influential independent NRC Handelsblad editorialized (8/2):  "The discussions about the negotiations have ended and now the WTO can start negotiating about what has been discussed.  That is what the WTO talks achieved last weekend in Geneva in order to prevent the international rounds of trade liberalization talks from failing....  WTO negotiations are always moving slowly and its impact is often noticed only after many years....  For many years, the WTO has been the target of anti-globalization protest actions but it seems that this has changed.  Actually, this time environmental and development organizations criticized the WTO agreement reached in Geneva for not being far-reaching enough and that the promises concerning agricultural subsidies are not concrete enough.  That may be the case but never before did the EU and the U.S. show so much political willingness to dismantle their systems of agricultural subsidies.  WTO agreements take time--after many years of back and forth, there is now some light looming at the end of the tunnel."


NORWAY:  "Agriculture Under Pressure"


The social democratic Dagsavisen commented (8/3):  "...The underdeveloped countries probably stand to gain most from the agriculture part of the WTO agreement.  Farming in the rich part of the world, Norway included, will have to face problems because of this....  We fully understand the [Norwegian] farmers' concern about this...but in reality we cannot choose to stay on the outside of the WTO..."


"A Better Alternative"


The independent Dagbladet commented (8/3):  "...A controlled world trade is better than protectionism which only benefits the richest countries."


"A Solution In Geneva"


Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten commented (8/2):  "As a small country, Norway is particularly dependent on international trade agreements.  We have everything to gain from a strong WTO....  It is naïve to believe that we will be able to keep current import regulations....  At the same time it is cynical to keep the world's poor countries on the outside.  The challenge in the years to come will be to implement the changes that will have to be done in the agricultural sector.  With smart and well educated farmers, [Norway] should be well positioned to handle the necessary changes, and the longer we wait the harder the change will be."


"Food Trade"


Christian-Democratic Vaart Land observed (8/2):  "A nation that has profiled itself as a supporter for the underdeveloped countries, must also be willing to share the burden, even if this has consequences for its own trade and industry." 




AUSTRALIA:  "Free Trade And Subsidies Just Don't Mix"


An editorial in the conservative Brisbane Courier Mail read (8/3):  "The FTA is not perfect, but it is a significant advance....  Of course, these are unilateral deals.  Multilateral trade agreements, such as those negotiated through the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference forum, or the World Trade Organization, are--theoretically at least--preferable.  To this end, the WTO agreement reached at the weekend in Geneva is encouraging....  The agricultural subsidies paid to primary producers in the US remain a hurdle for freer trade, never more so than when a Republican President is facing an election in November.  The Europeans, too, need to be weaned off the enormous subsidies paid to their primary producers. And that is always easier said than done.  There is, however, cause for some optimism."


"Free Trade Back On The Agenda"


The national conservative Australian editorialized (8/2):  "With the metaphorical clock approaching midnight for the Doha round of multilateral trade agreement on farm subsidies was dragged from the ruins of last September's WTO talks in Cancun.  Free trade may not be back in town, or even necessarily back on track--the original Doha deadline of next January is no longer feasible--but it is certainly back from the brink....  Full talks are scheduled to resume next month.  If they can survive the protectionist cauldron of a U.S. presidential election, there are reasons to think a new era of free trade might dawn as soon as 2006.  That would constitute nothing less than a watershed in human economic history....  Far from helping consign Doha to the dustbin, the deals Australia has struck with the U.S., Thailand and Singapore may have been a factor in keeping it alive....  As a medium-sized trading country, Australia has much to gain on both fronts of trade reform.  But they should not be confused.  Australia's bilateral trade deals are about providing a further buttress to the solid economic growth we have enjoyed for more than a decade.  World trade reform is about the wealth of nations and the future of capitalism."


"FTAs Will Do Us For Now"


The business-oriented Australian Financial Review advised (8/2):  "The mind-numbing slowness of WTO trade talks should not prevent celebration of occasional successes, such as this weekend's agreement in Geneva on a framework for negotiations.  It is true that the next step--ministerial talks--won't happen for 18 months, that this deal should have come last year at Cancun and that many concessions have been made, including by Australia.  But the alternative--a complete collapse in trade dialogue--has been avoided....  Multilateral trade reform is not just Labor's Holy Grail, it's everyone's.  But that distant objective is not incapacitated by making bilateral deals along the way.  No one's saying they're easy--if Labor thinks there are problems with the U.S. FTA, wait until it has to weigh up the costs and benefits of a deal with China.  Multilateral reform is a long way off.  But in the meantime, FTAs with tangible benefits are available for the taking."


CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "Toughest Time Still Ahead For Trade Talks"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post said (8/3):  "The deal struck in Geneva at the weekend gives fresh hope to the World Trade Organization and the global trading system.  But we are far from the end of the Doha Round, and the vagueness of the agreement guarantees months--possibly years--of tough negotiating ahead....  The significance of the deal, then, is that it keeps the talks open until at least next December, when the trade ministers are due to meet in Hong Kong.  It also marks the growing influence and maturity of the Group of 20 developing nations led by Brazil, India and China.  This is a group partly blamed for the impasse in Cancun but now credited with helping steer the latest talks to a relatively fruitful conclusion....  A final agreement by next December would be ideal, but achieving that goal will not be easy.  Aside from the substance that still has to be addressed, two of the key WTO negotiators, EU trade commissioner Pascal Lamy and U.S. trade representative Robert Zoellick, are scheduled to leave their posts by the time talks resume after the American presidential election.  It might take time for their replacements to establish the kind of trust and smooth working relationships that will be needed as talks get more contentious.  Factoring in the uncertainty of the U.S. election outcome and the trade stance of the winning administration, it is little wonder that skeptics believe a 2007 conclusion might be more realistic.  It has taken three years to get the Doha talks this far, which is, by all accounts, only the half-way mark.  By the time the talks finish, we should expect to see many more bilateral and regional agreements come into force.  This is because liberalizing trade across national borders is widely recognized by governments as a way to stimulate economic growth.  Lack of progress at the WTO level will force them to keep the momentum going in any way possible.  But because many of these smaller deals will leave the big agricultural subsidy question untouched, we still need Doha.  Now the real haggling begins."


"WTO Will Bring About Opportunities And Challenges"


The pro-PRC Chinese-language Wen Wei Po editorialized (8/2):  "After two weeks of concentrated discussions and 40 consecutive hours of negotiations, the 147 members of the WTO finally agreed on a framework agreement on Doha's major issues.  The developed countries finally agreed to slash billions of dollars in farm subsidies.  The developing countries promised to remove all sorts of restrictions on imported goods.  Trade experts said that the agreement would bring hope to the global economy.  The framework agreement includes agricultural and non-agricultural products and services and trade, etc.  Although the negotiation has not set down a timetable for carrying out the agreement, it has removed the major difference between the developed and the developing countries.  It has set a framework of resuming global trade negotiation."   


JAPAN:  "Delay In Agricultural Reform Not Allowed"


Liberal Mainichi editorialized (8/3):  "The agreed framework turned out to be an acceptable proposal for Japan because it sidesteps difficult issues, including tariffs on specific agricultural products.  However, it is regrettable that Japan maintains a defensive posture toward global trade, without reforming its agricultural sector.  The trend in international trade discussion is to adopt a more open policy in protecting domestic agriculture.  Japan urgently needs to promote reform of its agricultural structure."


"Japan's Active Involvement Urged In WTO Negotiations"


Business-oriented Nikkei said (8/3):  "We welcome the framework agreement as it prevented the collapse of the multilateral trade talks.  However, the agreement is ambiguous and weak.  WTO efforts to avoid a breakup of talks resulted in a failure to resolve confrontational issues.  Japan, which attaches top priority to protecting its agriculture sector, did not play a leading role at the talks."


"No Time For Rest"


 Liberal Tokyo Shimbun editorialized (8/3):  "While we welcome the framework agreement reached at the WTO, substantial results are lacking.  Tokyo appeared 'relieved' by the delay of decisions on tariffs on specific agricultural products, including rice.  However, Japan must boost domestic competitiveness, because reform of the agricultural sector is essential for Tokyo to play a leading role in future trade negotiations."


"WTO New Round Talks Should Make Final Agreement"


Top-circulation, moderate-conservative Yomiuri opined (8/2):  "The latest framework agreement shows the WTO's priority on striking a deal by putting off complicated issues.  However, prolonged suspension of negotiations on thorny issues will reduce the 'momentum' of the talks.  The WTO should continue negotiations until a final agreement is made.  The GOJ also needs to reform Japan's agriculture sector to ensure its international competitiveness." 


"WTO Yet To Face Tougher Negotiations"


Conservative Sankei commented (8/2):  "We welcome the framework agreement, which marks a halfway point of negotiation on a final agreement for trade liberalization.  Nevertheless, with in-depth discussions on tough issues still remaining, the WTO is expected to face difficult negotiations when talks resume next year.  Japan, which is attaching importance to bilateral FTA and EPA negotiations, must develop comprehensive negotiation strategies for future WTO talks.  Instead of stiffly opposing trade liberalization, Tokyo should strengthen domestic competitiveness."


"No Time For Rest"


Liberal Asahi noted (8/1):  "Although the GOJ has welcomed the WTO agreement to reduce tariffs and farm subsidies, the framework still remains 'ambiguous' on specific issues in an effort to consider the positions of import and export countries.  However, it would be most regrettable if Tokyo welcomed the agreement because of the WTO's delay in imposing high tariffs on rice import.  Such an attitude would fail to strengthen domestic competitiveness and postpone amendment of Japan's 'passive' position on trade liberalization.  Tokyo needs to change its agricultural policy from subsidiary support for farmers to direct payments in order to make agriculture more market-oriented.  However, it is doubtful whether the government, used to 'pork-barrel' politics, can truly change its long-standing policy."


INDONESIA:  "WTO's Changing Stance"


Nationalistic Harian Merdeka commented (8/3):  "The rich countries finally fulfilled the demand by developing countries at the WTO.  At the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Geneva, they agreed to reduce subsidies in their agricultural sector by 20 percent.  In return, the market for agricultural products in developing countries will be open to exports of agricultural products from advanced countries....  The compromise reached by the WTO 147 member countries shed a light that the cooperation between the richer countries and the poorer ones will bring about more benefits than damages."


"No Developing Countries Want To Be Dictated To By Developed Countries"


Leading independent Kompas (7/31) commented:  "The group of developing countries within the WTO has demonstrated a unity asserting that they will not be dictated to by developed countries.  The developing countries strongly oppose the agricultural subsidies provided by developed countries as they find them in contradiction to the principle of free global trade.  Those subsidies are more than an issue of violating the free trade rules.  The subsides and protections granted by developed countries to their agricultural sector exhibit an attitude of unfairness and arrogance because those developed countries demand at the same time that developing countries should not subsidize and protect their agriculture....  No matter their logic in providing subsidies and protections for their agriculture, the aroma of unfairness is very apparent.  If developing countries are not responsive and proactive, economic liberalization will eventually constitute a new form of colonial domination of developing countries by developed countries."


NEW ZEALAND:  "Export Subsidy Barrier Cracks"


Tracy Watkins wrote in the second largest, left-of-center Dominion Post (8/2):  "The WTO agreement to eliminate export subsidies is potentially worth more than $1 billion a year to New Zealand, though a final agreement could still be years away.  A final date for their elimination is yet to be decided, but buoyant trade negotiators said reaching consensus on getting rid of them was the crucial hurdle. They described it as a historic moment for the World Trade Organization that marked the beginning of the end of farm subsidies.  The deal throws a potential lifeline to Kiwi farmers after ominous signs the failure of negotiations would lead to the world being carved up into regional trading blocs.  Among countries which have been aggressively pursuing bilateral trade deals is Australia, which rebuffed New Zealand's advances for a joint approach and overrode objections about the impact on CER to do a separate deal with the United States.  New Zealand exporters face a new threat in a more recent deal with Thailand, where they are in competition with Australia."


SOUTH KOREA:  "ROK Rice Culture At Crossroads"


The moderate Hankook Ilbo editorialized (8/3):  "The agreement on the framework of the WTO DDA will certainly bring an unmanageable wave of market openings to the ROK agricultural sector, because opening the agricultural market is inevitable since the basis of the DDA negotiations is market-oriented trade liberalization.  Of course, this agreement contains only principles, leaving room for changes depending on the outcome of the DDA negotiations, but it is highly unlikely that future developments would be favorable to us.  In this regard, the Ministry of Agriculture hurriedly came up with a plan to select 70,000 rice-growing farms with management competency to develop them into special rice farms, cultivating six hectares on average by 2010.  Effective measures cannot be expected when the negotiations are dragging the government around and farmers are protesting against the negotiations.  From the stage of negotiations and countermeasure development, the government and the farmers must put together their ideas to come up with a response."




INDIA:  "Acceptable Agenda"


An editorial in the centrist Times Of India asserted (8/4):  "The trade talks that ended on July 31 in Geneva were not conclusive, but they have achieved two things.  One, they have kept the door open for further negotiations, scheduled for 2005.  Two, they have forced rich nations--the U.S. and EU--to concede to important demands of poorer countries like India.  The main sticking point in most trade negotiations among the World Trade Organization's 147 member nations is farm trade:  the rich West subsidizes farmers, as do most poorer nations....  Even if you discount John Kerry's threats to curb outsourcing to India if voted to power as campaign rhetoric, there's no doubt that the U.S. is in no position to talk serious trade reform till November, when elections are over.... Nothing has been concluded, but the agenda for the next round has been set.  And it is one we can live with."


"Revival Of Doha Round"


An editorial in the centrist The Hindu opined (8/4):  "For the first since its launch in 2001, the Doha Round of negotiations of the World Trade Organization has yielded a reasonably balanced agreement that should satisfy both rich and poor countries.  Yet to describe the deal as a victory for India and the developing countries would be premature.  Difficult negotiations will have to be conducted over the next two years to flesh out the details on agriculture, industrial products, services, and a number of other trade issues.  There is, however, no doubt that the WTO round has been resuscitated from the collapse in Cancun in September 2003....  Services, another important item on the agenda, is a silent controversy waiting to erupt.  The developed countries have not given up on demands that the developing countries should open their health, education, and many other social services to foreign suppliers.  There is much work to be done before the Doha round lives up to the claim of being a 'Development Round.'  But for now, the developing country majority can take credit for demonstrating--for the second time in a year--that the WTO cannot always function as a rich country club."


"Historic Moment?"


An editorial in the English-language independent Shillong Times commented (8/4):  "The removal of export subsidies will demolish a major obstacle.  Developing nations like India and Brazil had been fighting against it because it caused a price differential.  But even if the U.S. was malleable, the EU countries were stubbornly opposed to it and the Cancun talks ended up in smoke.  Cut in tariff on industrial products will also put the developing nations at an advantage.  India and Brazil played a leading role in bringing about this western volte-face....  But analysts feel that it will not be right to be gung-ho at this stage.  The accord at Geneva is vague and open-ended.  It is just a framework for multilateral trade negotiations.  Indian negotiators have a tough fight ahead to ensure a fair deal for the poorer nations.  The developed countries have not spelt out the 'substantial' reduction in farm subsidies.  The deadline has not been fixed and will be done at a later date....  Again, the U.S. and EU may be able to increase their aggregate subsidies to their respective farm sectors.  Besides, the developing countries have agreed to provide greater access to their markets.  The developed countries still have ways and means to keep goods from developing countries out of their markets.  Still and all, it is a breakthrough and hopefully Kamal Nath's optimism will be realized in September."


"Revised WTO Framework Agreement"


An editorial in the Hindu Business Line opined (8/4):  "Trade Ministers of 147 countries stitched together a new deal to reinvigorate the stalled trade liberalization talks under the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) in Geneva on July 31, after intense negotiations.  The WTO deserves praise for managing to cobble together a cohesive plan of action in the form of a package of framework and other agreements.  In the words of the WTO Director-General, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, the deal would vastly enhance members' chances for successfully completing the crucial Doha Round stymied ever since the collapse of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun, Mexico, in September 2003....  At the end of the day, what counts is not the gain and loss to one country but the benefits that accrue to multilateralism itself, particularly when regional trading agreements and extension of preferential trade pacts among participants make mockery of free and fair global trade.  The Geneva process has stemmed the creeping erosion in multilateralism by bringing on board countries to enable them to comply with rule-based trading norms for ensuring development, growth and employment everywhere."


"Trade Fair"


An editorial in the nationalist Hindustan Times read (8/3):  "That a diverse group of countries, ranging from India to New Zealand and the U.S., have declared victory at the conclusion of a framework agreement on global trade at the World Trade Organization meeting at Geneva is good news.  The agreement will help restart the stalled Doha round of talks on reforming global trade in agriculture, manufactured goods and services and streamlining customs procedures.  In essence, it will see an end to trade-distorting agricultural subsidies by the rich nations in exchange for poorer countries cutting and even eliminating tariffs for manufactured products across the board.  Since this is only a 'framework' agreement, the final deal may still be years off....  Nevertheless, the agreement is a major event since it marks a historic decision by the developed countries to agree to end subsidies in production and export of agricultural products....  However, the agreement has safeguards that will enable countries to define some products as 'sensitive' and maintain high tariffs on them.  This is both a challenge and opportunity as it could be used to block access to markets.  On the other hand, it could allow the government some flexibility in dealing with domestic producers....  Developing nations, which have warily agreed to open their markets, need to show to their people that globalization works.  It is in the interests of the WTO and the developed world to ensure that the poor countries not only gain but are seen to gain from the trading regime they seek to create."


"Green Signal From WTO"


An editorial in the centrist Indian Express opined (8/3):  "Members of the WTO have put together a new deal to address the issues of agriculture, industrial tariffs and streamlining customs procedures....  Countries such as India who see themselves as importers, and emphasize policies of self-reliance in foodgrain, have pressed the EU and U.S. to reduce agricultural subsidies....  However, even if these developments at the WTO have not created new opportunities for Indian agricultural exports, as Commerce Minister Kamal Nath claims, but merely helped in creating an environment for the continuation of multilateral tariff reduction negotiations and greater trade, then India and the whole world stand to gain."


"Back On Track"


An editorial in the pro-economic-reforms Business Standard commented (8/3):  "The framework accord hammered out at the WTO General Council meeting at Geneva on Saturday has managed to salvage the Doha development agenda....  The developing countries are, by and large, happy that they have been able to force the U.S. and EU to agree to eliminate export subsidies and other trade-distorting government support for farm goods....  In turn, the rich countries have succeeded in impelling the developing countries to agree to tariff reductions in general and putting on the negotiation table the topic of trade facilitation, one of the four Singapore issues which these nations had hitherto been strongly opposing.  Also, while in the case of reductions in the tariffs on farm goods, the developing countries' plea for the biggest cuts in the highest tariffs has been upheld, no figures have been mentioned.  In fact, the negotiating clout that this group [G-20] acquired in Cancun was consolidated in Geneva.  This should place the group in good stead when the real bargaining begins, for signing by December 2005.  That deadline could be missed for two reasons.  First, nothing significant is likely to happen between now and the U.S. presidential elections.  Second, having agreed to the broad framework, the rich countries are bound to try every trick in the book to limit concessions to the poor and draw maximum benefit for themselves when the details are worked out prior to the ultimate accord.  Thus, what has been achieved in Geneva is not an end but only a beginning and the road ahead is far from hurdle-free."


"Welcome Breakthrough"


The pro-economic-reforms Economic Times declared (8/2):  "It's a welcome development that trade liberalization under the aegis of the WTO is back on the rails.  The 147 members of the WTO have finally hammered out a framework for negotiating further trade reform, in which all the major parties seem to have achieved the 'equal degree of dissatisfaction,' that signals a fair compromise.  The major concession wrested by the developing world is getting the developed countries, particularly the EU and the U.S. to accept complete elimination of export subsidies and, more significantly, major cuts in domestic support, for their agricultural produce.  While a timetable for such subsidy cuts is yet to be finalized, it's a major achievement to get developed countries to accept some discipline on domestic support, along with the premise that domestic support can indeed, distort trade significantly....  The political class must appreciate greater openness as a primary means of achieving broad-based, fast growth to reduce poverty and misery."


"Trade Winds" 


The nationalist Hindustan Times editorialized (8/2):  "In a world where trade is becoming freer, courtesy of the WTO, a bilateral free trade agreement may seem like an anachronism.  But the reality is that the WTO system is still some distance away from providing a genuinely free trade regime.  In this scenario, bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) serve the purpose of confidence-building between countries.  India's decision to sign such an agreement with Thailand is a practical step towards building closer ties with a strategically located neighbor known for its manufacturing prowess, and it is bound to have wider and positive repercussions with other Asean countries....  Finally, such agreements also help India to build up a larger coalition of countries to crack the position of developed countries on agricultural issues in the WTO.  An agreement by the U.S. and Europe to reduce and eliminate agricultural subsidies could enable India to transform its own vital agricultural sector."


PAKISTAN:  "What Would Be The Fate Of Poor And Backward Countries?"


An editorial in the second largest Urdu daily Nawa-e-Waqt argued (8/4):  "The WTO dialogue in Geneva has resulted in a treaty under which the developed countries would withdraw subsidies on their exports....  WTO wants to end whatever industrial and economic capability developing or backward countries have and want to turn these countries into open markets for multi-national companies and developed countries....  The developing and poor countries are heavily indebted to IMF and the same are being pressed to increase the prices of fertilizer, power tariff, taxes on pesticides, agro-equipment....  This so called organization of trade and commerce is bent upon destroying Pakistan's economic capability or whatever left of it.  The foreign products would be cheaper, but at the cost of our industry.  Presently the unemployment is 41 percent, which is bound to increase after WTO proposals implementation.  What would the fate of these unemployed people?  Still our educated trade minister says that the implementation of the WTO proposal would bring profit of billions of dollars."




ARGENTINA:  "FTAA Now A Little Closer"


Business-oriented Infobae reported (8/3):  "The framework agreement reached by WTO countries on new regulations in the exchange of farm products and a 'step-by-step' reduction in subsidies for exports by developed countries will give FTAA negotiations a new drive.  That was the condition expressed by USTR Robert Zoellick, one of the key negotiators who managed to unblock discussions, which were about to fail last Friday....  The agreement reached on Saturday within the WTO means a step forward on this issue because developing countries received 'explicit commitments' against protectionism from the most industrialized countries, said Argentine Secretary for International Relations, Martin Redrado."


"The U.S. And Europe Agree To Cut Down Farm Subsidies"


Columnist Carlos Burgueño of business-financial Ambito Financiero wrote (8/2):  "During last weekend, Argentina and Mercosur are likely to have reached the most important economic deal for the bloc's commercial development at the WTO meeting, in which central countries seriously agreed for the first time to start removing the U.S. $300 billion farm subsidies implemented by the EU, the U.S. and Japan....  The measure particularly benefits Argentina, which could access markets for over U.S. $30 billion in which its commodities are highly competitive.  Additionally, both the U.S. and the EU agreed to cut down at least 20 per cent of their farm subsidies....  This means that, even though the percentage is low, for the first time developed countries agreed to establish a concrete percentage of reduction in farm subsidies.  Therefore, the 20 per cent could be increased to 50-60 per cent....  Argentina could at least access markets for 50 billion dollars both in the EU and in the U.S. and Japan.  If, finally, the farm subsidies removal reached 50 per cent, the amount would reach 100 billion dollars....  While no concrete dates were fixed yet, the working hypothesis is that the removal of farm subsidies will begin in late 2006 or sometime in 2007."


BRAZIL:  "A Landmark In The Fight Against Subsidies"


The lead editorial in center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo remarked (8/5):  "Brazil has won another battle against the rich world's agricultural policy.  The victory against European subsidies given to sugar production and exports is a new landmark in the history of the WTO.  Politically, it is as important [for Brazil] as was the organization's decision against U.S. subsidies given to cotton producers.  Both decisions, which will be difficult to reverse, will pave the way for additional pressure against subsidies that distort trade and impose losses of billions of dollars to developing economies.  In addition, the decisions are expected to be used as guidelines for the upcoming major negotiations of trade agreements both in the Doha Round and in bilateral and regional areas."


"Victory At The WTO"


Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo editorialized (8/5):  "The WTO decision in regards to the complaint presented by Brazil, Thailand and Australia against the EU's subsidies given to its sugar producers strengthened the Brazilian position as well as that of its allies, which may now try to speed up the deadline and improve the proposal voluntarily presented by the Europeans.  The favorable decision in the area of sugar occurred after Brazil obtained a similar victory against U.S. subsidies to cotton producers.  Both are significant decisions if seen within the context of discussions about global trade liberalization.  The rich nations' retreat in the agricultural debate seems increasingly inevitable, as demonstrated by the WTO decision last week approving the elimination of export subsidies.  There is certainly a distance between approving principles and transforming them into facts. Brazilian diplomacy must continue fighting to reduce this gap."


"More Than Sweetness"


Economic columnist Celso Ming commented in center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo (8/5):  "The most important impact of this new victory at the WTO is the message transmitted to both governments and major corporations that official subsidies are dangerous and bad business....  From now on, investments and strategic decisions must take into consideration the fact that business activities based on official subsidies will run serious risks.  The second most important consequence is the new strength assumed by Brazilian trade diplomacy."


"A Tough Answer To The Distortions In The World Sugar Market"


Center-left Jornal do Brasil editorialized (8/5):  "The WTO's favorable opinion toward the Brazil/Thailand/Australia joint denunciation against the EU subsidies to sugar producers is a tough answer to the distortions in the world sugar market that imposes a loss of some U.S. $400 million per year on Brazil....  However, that is not the only bad conduct affecting competition between countries.  The Europeans offer relevant incentives to sugar beet producers as well.  It is also the same for the U.S. sugar producers in Florida and Hawaii.  That represents an almost insurmountable barrier for the competitors....  Exporting countries are pressing to have liberalization rules, currently applied to industrialized items, extended to the farm sector.  Europeans and Americans, however, usually offer tough resistance in this heavy-weighters' game.  Brazil is not entirely ready to face such a struggle.  On one side, it shows a severe diplomatic action.  It also benefits from an intense modernizing, professionalizing process in the farm sector.  Nevertheless, Brazil lacks adequate infrastructural, logistic conditions, which, does not neutralize the negotiators’ celebration.  But it is a significant impairment to a more promising future."


"Doha And Buenos Aires"


Economic columnist Luis Nassif opined in the liberal Folha de Sao Paulo (8/4):  "In the diplomatic area, the Doha Round results, whose final agreement was signed Sunday, consecrates Brazil's role as a diplomatic leader....  The victory not only strengthened the G-20, but also made orphans of the nations that abandoned the group due to U.S. pressure.  The agreement has transformed Brazil into a reference in the international trade game....  In a world where trade negotiations will increasingly be conducted between blocs of nations, the Brazilian vocation is South America....  The physical integration is a reality more concrete than the commercial and economic ones....  Although the geopolitical question is relevant, the limits of acceptable concessions Brazil might make in order to achieve the continental integration are not yet clear."


"Back To The Table"


Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo editorialized (8/3):  "The major problem in the [WTO] negotiations has been the resistance of the U.S. and the EU to dismantle the protectionist structure that favors their agricultural products....  The understanding achieved in Geneva does not mean that the problems are over....  What remains to be resolved is the most difficult, that is, the final design of measures and the deadline for their implementation.  The task is not simple.  It will demand firmness and persistence from Brazilian negotiators."


"New Breath For The Global Round"


An editorial in center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo opined (8/3):  "[GOB's] Foreign Minister Celso Amorim was at least exaggerated when he told President Lula da Silva that Brazil won everything [in Geneva].  It has not gained anything so far, but the path is now open, the discussion is a promising one and Brazilian diplomacy had a relevant role in the advance achieved in Geneva last week.  The agreement eliminated obstacles threatening the Doha Round.  The progress depended on the efforts carried out by diplomats of the U.S., EU, Australia, India and Brazil."


"Restored Credibility"


Independent Jornal da Tarde editorialized (8/3):  "There are still doubts about the range of the measures [agreed upon in Geneva].  It is not known when the subsidies will be eliminated.  The developing nations think [it will be] in some seven or eight years.  The rich ones, beginning with France, that most resisted the end of protectionism, imagine [it will be] at least ten years.  Therefore, it is premature to estimate how much each nation may benefit....  Brazil had a remarkable role in the Geneva negotiations.  It will be difficult to regress from what was achieved there."


"The Meaning Of This Agreement"


Center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo economic columnist Celso Ming observed (8/3):  "The greatest achievement of the recent WTO trade negotiations was having prevented the worst [from happening]....  Had a disagreement occurred, the demoralization of the WTO would be almost unavoidable.  Under these conditions, international trade would run the risk of becoming a lawless land."


"A Fundamental Step In The WTO's Doha Round"


University Professor Marcos S. Jank wrote in center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo (8/3):  "Finally some good news for international trade....  [But] there are many traps and ambiguities in the [WTO] document.  It is not yet time for one to celebrate victory, but instead to concentrate on efforts for the second round, particularly in terms of domestic support and access to foreign markets."


"Open Door"


An editorial in center-right O Globo commented (8/3):  "The accord just closed last weekend at the WTO Geneva talks...was considered historic....  It’s really an advance to see the First World agree to cut subsidies granted to its farm producers....  The outcome, euphorically welcome in Brazil, revives the Doha Round...essential to overcome many countries’ underdevelopment and to support medium economies....  There is a lot at stake here.  Developed economies spend approximately U.S. $1 billion per day in subsidies alone.  That causes distortions in international prices, impairing many countries’ exports and leading to poverty and hunger....  The cotton case is typical.  The U.S. Treasury pours some two to three billion dollars per year into its cotton plantations.  This causes the U.S. to duplicate its crops overflowing the world with a product at an artificially low price.  That hurts Brazil.  But the greatest victims are the African countries, whose GNPs don’t go even near the share that cotton producers get from the American tax-payer....  Advancing won’t be an easy task.  There is great political influence in this bargain:  in the U.S. Congressional elections in 2002 agro-businesses gave U.S. $53 billion to campaign financing, 72% of which went to Republicans.  It won’t be easy, but a door has been opened."


"Preventing Fair Trade"


Center-left Jornal do Brasil opined (8/3):  "The framework of negotiations agreed upon in Geneva is far from representing the necessary tools for fairer international trade in the poor countries’ viewpoint.  Predictably, the approved text did not bury the criticism made by the involved parties.  One of the criticisms has to do with farm subsidies.  Despite the commitment to eliminate all export subsidies...the approved text does not establish deadlines for its fulfillment....  Another concern is on market access....  A dangerous gap was opened to poorer countries, with uncertain effects on each one’s economies....  Therefore, this is no time to celebrate victories, especially in the developing countries’ universe.  There is a long way to go in order to achieve world trade rules that may favor poorer nations....  An active foreign trade is essential to support Brazilian growth.  Today, however, the U.S. and the EU pour a great amount of subsidized farm products into the market, thus preventing fair trade and impairing the access of Brazilian products.  The dispute is tough.  It calls for dialogue with sobriety and pride."


CANADA:  "Good News On The Trade Front"


Senior Policy Analyst at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Alexander Lofthouse  wrote in the conservative National Post (8/5):  "The WTO deal struck on Saturday is good news for Canada and the entire world.  The World Bank estimates the agreement could lift 140 million people out of poverty by 2015.  The framework deal is just that--a framework, a road map for the detailed negotiations to come.  The Doha Round offers real hope of finally addressing this intolerable situation, and achieving cuts in agricultural export subsidies as well as to trade-distorting domestic support....  Of course, the Geneva framework is not perfect.  Beyond agricultural issues, there are many unresolved differences on industrial tariffs (such as the formula that will be used to determine who cuts what tariffs by how much), and several topics (such as investment, competition, and government procurement) have unfortunately been dropped from the Doha round altogether.  But, with 147 countries involved, it is absurd to think everyone will walk away totally satisfied.  That never happens in any negotiation, certainly not in a process this complex.  All things considered, the Geneva framework holds out hope for real advancement.  There are indeed many unanswered questions, and many months of tough negotiations ahead."


"Another Reason To Dump The Wheat Board"


The conservative National Post asserted (8/5):  "...While free trade ultimately provides long-term gains for all sides, it inevitably causes some short-term adjustment pain.  When trade agreements are implemented, unproductive businesses that have previously been propped up by subsidies and import tariffs are exposed to market forces that care not about special interests or parochial sensitivities, but only about who delivers the best product most efficiently....  Canada is not the only country that will be forced to make sacrifices.  If the agreement comes to pass, the United States, the European Union, Japan and other WTO members will be dropping subsidies and protective tariffs, too.  That means more markets will be open to everyone's goods, which in turn means lower prices for consumers worldwide.  It also offers developing countries a long overdue chance to compete, which is likely to boost their economies and raise their standards of living....  The need to do our part in the WTO's push to improve the world economy for the common good only strengthens the case."


"Canada Gets Trade Message"


Conservative Halifax Herald editorialized (8/5):  "Though the details are still to be negotiated, the seeming breakthrough in the Doha round of global trade talks holds out great promise for many Third World farmers who now cannot compete against the heavily subsidized produce in the European Union or United States, while simultaneously offering the developed world the prospect of greater access to more markets....  Despite understandable opposition from these [wheat farming] sectors, the lack of global support for our trade practices clearly suggests that it's time to consider phasing out, or substantially modifying, our wheat and supply-management boards.  We must insist, however, that any changes minimize the disruptions."


"An Efficient Counterweight"

Editorialist Michèle Boisvert wrote in the liberal La Presse (8/4):  "What made it possible to restart the Doha round are the concessions made by rich countries, namely the European Union and the United States with respect to their agricultural subsidies....  The pledge made by the EU and the U.S. to stop subsidizing their exports by 2006 and to reduce considerably their other agricultural aid programs has nothing to do with any sudden surge of compassion....  But despite the progress made in Geneva, the 147 member countries of the WTO are still far away from an agreement.  Though the framework of the agreement was set, there are still numerous details remaining, with the risk of derailment far from having disappeared.  Nevertheless after the bitter failure of last year in Cancun we can be happy about Geneva.  Besides rekindling the hope for an agreement, last week’s marathon negotiations proved that multilateral organizations can be efficient."


"Give And Take On Trade"


The liberal Toronto Star opined (8/4):  "Canada has long been an outspoken critic of the massive agricultural subsidies the United States and European Union confer on their farmers....  Negotiations on a new global free trade deal are now set to resume in September, but could still drag on for two or three more years as the all-important details are thrashed out....  To focus too heavily on what Canadians might lose under a new trade deal is to lose sight of what we also stand to gain.  Although governments do not tend to stress the fact, the reality is that to realize the benefits from free trade, there are always costs that must be incurred."


"Good News From The WTO"


The conservative National Post editorialized (8/3):  "After years of fruitless negotiations, the members of the WTO have okayed a preliminary plan to cut agricultural subsidies.  This will come as good news to all the world's nations--poor and rich alike....  It will take many more months of talks before details of the treaty are finalized....  And even when the ink is dry, many provisions will take years to come into effect, as governments seek to reduce the shock of imposing an even playing field on formerly coddled farmers and ranchers.  But already, world leaders are praising the development, justifiably optimistic that it will provide their nations with new and bigger markets....  One can only hope that the shrill voices of the world's protectionists do not undermine this important agreement before it is implemented."


"Trade Ho!"


The leading Globe and Mail commented (8/3):  "The collapse of the Doha round of global trade talks last fall was such a setback that even a tentative resurrection is cause for cheering.  Sunday's framework agreement by the 147-member World Trade Organization has the potential to chop away at agricultural subsidies and tariffs that have distorted the pricing, exporting and production of food around the world and saddled taxpayers with enormous bills....  The main achievement was that the WTO will continue negotiations and has agreed on what to negotiate. None of this will stop protectionist forces from trying to derail the talks....  This is crucial work the WTO is doing, and it knows it.  Sunday's agreement put that work back on track."


COSTA RICA:  "WTO Reaches Agreement To Eliminate Agricultural Subsidies"


Populist daily Diario Extra reported (8/2):  "This step is part of an historic accord that seeks to relaunch the Doha round negotiations in September.  For the first time, the EU promised to eliminate agricultural export subsidies and the U.S. will concurrently impose strict limits on export credits.  They promised to reduce import barriers, decrease government aid for industiral and agricultural products, and telecom and banking service industries.  The plan also succeeded in addressing the devasting effect that U.S. cotton subsidies have on African products, which was considered a success by the developing countries.  Another novel aspect was the beginning of negotations on trade facilitation or customs streamlining.  WTO members could not overcome differences on market access for industrial products.  Costa Rica, along with 10 other Latin American countries pushed for maximum liberalization in developed markets for tropical products, which was opposed by EU, African and Caribbean countries." 


"Agree To Eliminate Agricultural Subsidies In WTO Negotiations"


Conservative daily Prensa Libre reported (8/2):  "Foreign Trade Minister Alberto Trejos was pleased by the commitments which will bring a better trade exchange and protection for farmers in developing countries.  After five days of intense negotiations, the WTO members reached an agreement to trim millions of dollars from agricultural subsidies, create more open international markets, and revive the problematic negotiations on world trade.  Minister Trejos characterized the agreement as an historic event on a global level.  Costa Rica concentrated its efforts on launching negotiations on trade facilitation which would ease trade flows, the transit of merchandise, and various procedures that would facilitate the exchange of goods and services.  Trejos expressed great hope that the framework agreement would permit the WTO to relaunch the Doha Round which was on the brink of collapsing.  Other important achievements for developing countries is that the U.S. acceded to eliminate subsidies in its agricultural products in key crops like corn rice and cotton, after the EU had committed to a similar measure.  Analysts confirmed that it is vital that the measures enter into force before 2007 when U.S. 'fast track' authority ends."



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