Doha Stalemate Continues

Senators stick to demands for better market access, WTO Director talks about exceptions for poorer countries.

Published on: Sep 28, 2006

While the European Union wants the U.S. to end agricultural subsidies affecting trade, Senators Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., continue to call for better European market access. Peter Mandelson , Trade Minister of the European Union, attended meetings in Washington, D.C. yesterday to try to end the Doha deadlock.

"Obviously, it's at a stalemate right now," Chambliss said yesterday. "When (European nations) give us true market access, then I think you will see some movement on this, but to date, as we told Mr. Mandelson today, we simply don't think the offer they've made is commensurate with our significant reduction in domestic support proposal."

Harkin says that if the U.S. undergoes the cuts in domestic support programs proposed during the Doha Round negotiations, Europe and other countries must in turn reduce their trade barriers to allow better export opportunities for U.S. agriculture.

"For the Doha Round to succeed, the EU and other countries must step up and offer significant reductions in their tariffs," Harkin said. He agrees that a Doha Round agreement can benefit the U.S. and the rest of the world, but "the majority of the benefits are created from reducing high agricultural tariffs, as opposed to lowering domestic supports or eliminating export subsidies."

WTO Director: Doha Round Must Continue

WTO Director General Pascal Lamy said that his top objective is to make sure negotiations continue. "There is no acceptable alternative to the successful conclusion of the Round," he commented in a speech this week.

While referring to the WTO's stance against export subsidies in the U.S. and other developed countries, Lamy also mentioned the importance of lifting these restrictions for "Least Developed Countries" and developing countries with a per capita GDP of less than $1,000. Lamy also referred to the benefits of giving developing countries industrial tariff flexibility on account of revenue demands, the difficulty these nations often face raising revenues by other means, and the ability to tailor protection levels for growing industry with a high variance in tariff levels.

"Progress has been made over the years in improving conditions of access in developed country markets but it is clear that much remains to be done in the areas of agriculture," Lamy said.