WTO ambassadors are pushing for faster progress in the World Trade Organization's Doha round of trade talks. U.S. Grains Council director of trade development Rebecca Bratter says the long-running Doha Round negotiations is evolving toward a focus on the "horizontal process," with countries moving to prioritize demands and make concessions between agricultural trade, manufacturing and services. Bratter just returned from a Doha assessment in Geneva.
According to Bratter, there is a sense that countries are entering a "trade-off phase" where a concession in agricultural market access is considered in the context of what gain it may produce in industrial market access. Bratter says, as the round moves toward final agreement, they are concerned the United States diminished its focus on new agricultural market access and is more focused on gains in the industrials.
The next indicator of how negotiations are progressing will come from the bilateral meetings the United States is conducting with China and India. The Council also hopes to see movement in bilateral talks with Brazil. Bratter says progress on these bilateral agreements would move the ball forward significantly. But any agreement has to cover all sectors, not just agriculture, and ultimately, the agreement will rest not on the will of a few countries but on a multilateral consensus on trade. Doha negotiations continue through March.