World Trade Organization agriculture talks broke down Tuesday in Geneva after negotiators were unable to agree on a formula to convert tariffs to equitable levels. The breakdown raises concerns about the July deadline to keep things on track for a December 2005 completion.
Congress Daily reports that "negotiators were unable to agree on a formula to convert tariffs based on unit values into percentages so they could be equitably compared when cuts in tariffs are proposed." The debate is mainly between European countries and the exporting countries led by Australia.
Sources say that diplomats had been close to reaching a compromise on the equitability issue. But shortly before the final negotiating session, individuals from both sides realized they had different interpretations of what would work and what the results would bring.
The delay could hold up the July deadline, which is when countries are expected to give more definite numbers for cutting subsidies and reducing tariffs to make sure increased market access counters reduced subsidy levels.