July 29, 2008 / 4:33 PM / in 10 years

INSTANT VIEW: WTO talks collapse amid farm stand-off

GENEVA (Reuters) - Marathon talks on a new wave of trade liberalization collapsed on Tuesday after nine days of intense but ultimately fruitless negotiations.

Following are some reactions, with latest at top:

MARIO MARCONINI, DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL NEGOTIATIONS OF THE SAO PAULO INDUSTRY FEDERATION (FIESP)

“It seems some countries want the round to fail, notably India and Argentina.

“The others abandoned Brazil. China never said anything and decided to oppose everything.”

SORAYA ROSAR, DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL NEGOTIATIONS WITH BRAZIL’S NATIONAL INDUSTRY CONFEDERATION

“It’s really bad news. It’s sad to have lost so many years of work. For an emerging market, it is worrying to see a WTO that is not strong.”

SERGIO MENDES, HEAD OF NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CEREAL EXPORTERS, BRAZIL

“With the failure of the talks, which we hoped would reduce subsidies, Brazil’s rapid growth may be slowed. But there’s no way it will end growth.

PEDRO CAMARGO NETO, HEAD OF THE BRAZILIAN ASSOCIATION OF PORK MEAT EXPORTERS:

“It’s bad but not the end of the world. It’s not a setback that puts everything at risk. It’s not chaos.”

ADRIAN VAN DEN HOVEN, TRADE DIRECTOR AT EUROPE’S MAIN EMPLOYERS’ GROUP, BUSINESSEUROPE

“Obviously, we are disappointed that the talks came this far only to break down.

“We are not sure what is going to happen next in terms of WTO. We don’t want to sound alarmist, because we have seen this kind of crush in the past.

“Considering how close the talks were to reaching an agreement, it would be foolish to let everything fall apart.”

CARIN SMALLER, INSTITUTE FOR AGRICULTURE AND TRADE POLICY, NGO

“This deal did not collapse over small technicalities. It was doomed to fail from the start. There is no political support for what is on the table: not from India or France or Argentina or South Africa. Following the same WTO model is impossible now: governments are no longer willing to sacrifice other concerns strictly for the sake of trade. People are on the streets rioting over food and energy prices. The business world is in a state of shock over the financial crisis. These are the problems that governments have to focus on. And the Doha Round cannot help them.”

MATTHEW COGHLAN, ADVISER TO CHRISTIAN AID

“We applaud the stand that developing countries have taken throughout the talks in defending the livelihoods of the poorest and most vulnerable farmers. We hope that any future talks can place development firmly back on the agenda.”

EDWARD GRESSER, DIRECTOR, TRADE AND GLOBAL MARKETS PROJECT, PROGRESSIVE POLICY INSTITUTE, WASHINGTON, DC

“The time for developing countries to strike a deal over agriculture was now, not later. This year’s high prices created a window for lower rich-country subsidies and tariffs that may not open again, and it’s unfortunate that the big developing countries didn’t take the opportunity.”

“This fourth collapse after Cancun, Hong Kong and Potsdam suggests that the WTO members may need to rethink the agenda rather than try again with the same program. In particular, they might move agricultural reform out of the center for a few years, and focus instead on big newly emerging industries - energy/environmental industries and medical equipment for example - where attitudes are less entrenched and emotional.”

SHERMAN KATZ, TRADE SCHOLAR AND DIRECTOR OF OUTREACH, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS, WASHINGTON, DC

“The underlying problem from the U.S. perspective is the readiness of developing countries, such as India, to open their markets to higher levels of agriculture imports. In the current environment of understandable anxiety in the American workforce about trade, neither this (Bush) Administration nor the next one, whether Democrat or Republican, will accept terms for a Doha deal that does not expand significantly market access for both farm and industrial goods as well as services. And that means strong resistance against special safeguards’ in poor nations that can prevent such access from taking place.”

MICHAEL WOOLFOLK, A SENIOR CURRENCY STRATEGIST, BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON, NEW YORK

“The impact on the U.S. economy and on the U.S. dollar for now will be an indirect one. The dollar has benefited in the past from globalization and freer trade. If this means that more barriers will be imposed and countries will take the side of protectionism, it may hurt exports and therefore the economy and the dollar.”

JAMES DUNSTERVILLE, GRAIN ANALYST, GENEVA-BASED AGRINEWS

“Life goes on. The WTO talks have broken down for so many years that the surprise will come if they succeed not when they break down.”

“The breakdown is not a change, only a breakthrough would have been one.”

MICHAEL T. DARDA, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MKM PARTNERS, GREENWICH, CONNECTICUT

“I think it’s a strong negative and it really follows on the heels of a retreat from globalization and trade that were really the building blocks for the prosperity of the last several decades. It’s scary.

“The last thing that we need right now, as we are dealing with the unwinding of a massive credit bubble, is to turn our backs on trade and move into a protectionist stance. It would be a huge blow to the global economy and very negative for the world’s poor.”

BRIAN BETHUNE, U.S. ECONOMIST, GLOBAL INSIGHT, WALTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS

“These agricultural trade issues have been in talks for years. It’s really a tough situation because of the large trade protection offered to the farm sector in various forms and guises for many years. It’s hard to rein in these subsidies.”

“There doesn’t seem too much progress on this. It’s more important now with some of the shortages of global food supply. Something’s got to be done to improve this to reduce price distortions.”

“The progress on (agricultural) ag-trade is incremental. It’s not going to be revolutionary. Frequently there are these breakdowns. They often go back to it again. There is a higher sense of urgency.”

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