Construction of an international trade agreement is no easy task, but ministers will meet in Geneva starting Wednesday to take another stab at reaching some accord as part of the World Trade Organization. The rhetoric has heated up between the United States and European Union in advance of tomorrow's start with each side saying the other is the roadblock to progress.
In comments made late last week, Pascal Lamy, WTO director general, told delegates that a trade deal must be achieved soon. He notes that the meeting this week represents a crucial moment for global agricultural trade negotiations. He notes that there are a lot of subjects to cover, but "we can only turn to this long list, with agricultural and industrial goods out of the way."
Lamy says progress is necessary because the "very high tariffs on agricultural products have seriously hampered trade flow. Some developing countries argue that they need these tariffs to counter the effects of rich world subsidies, which lead to the dumping of their produce in developing country markets." Lamy notes that the average tariff worldwide on industrial goods is 5% while for agriculture the level is 60%.
Lamy says all sides need to make concessions if these talks are to succeed, adding that "a failure of the Doha Round would be first and foremost a loss for the developing world, who fought hard to launch a trade negotiation that would set the trade record straight."