August 10, 2004
GENEVA WTO TALKS SEND A 'REASSURING MESSAGE'
** 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
** 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--
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
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."
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
"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
Geneva...is 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
"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
"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
"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."
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."
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
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
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
"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."
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
"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."
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
EAST ASIA & PACIFIC
"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 talks...an 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
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "Toughest Time Still Ahead For Trade
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
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
"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
"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
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
"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."
"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."
"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
"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."
SOUTH & CENTRAL ASIA
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."
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
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
"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."
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
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."
"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."
"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,
"The U.S. And Europe Agree To Cut Down Farm
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."
"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
"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
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
"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."
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
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
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."
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
"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."
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
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."