The EU needs to turn the key
Alan Beattie and Victor Mallet report in the Financial Times that the EU’s previous trade commissioner — and current Director-General of the World Trade Organization — is trying to pressure the current trade commissoner to get the EU’s act together on the Doha round: The European Union is under pressure to improve its offer on ...
Alan Beattie and Victor Mallet report in the Financial Times that the EU's previous trade commissioner -- and current Director-General of the World Trade Organization -- is trying to pressure the current trade commissoner to get the EU's act together on the Doha round:
Alan Beattie and Victor Mallet report in the Financial Times that the EU’s previous trade commissioner — and current Director-General of the World Trade Organization — is trying to pressure the current trade commissoner to get the EU’s act together on the Doha round:
The European Union is under pressure to improve its offer on farm tariff cuts within 10 days, or risk the cancellation of December’s Hong Kong trade summit, according to trade officials. Officials in Europe say that Pascal Lamy, WTO director-general, has warned them there is no point going ahead with the meeting in December without a more ambitious proposal. The other leading partners in the negotiations – the US and the Group of 20 developing countries – have also identified the EU’s position as the main sticking point. “A clear and rising degree of concern has been expressed to us,” said one European Commission official. The official confirmed that Mr Lamy had suggested that the next week to 10 days was the make-or-break point for the Doha round of talks. The WTO declined to comment. Cancelling a ministerial meeting, which take place every other year, would require the consent of all 148 members of the WTO and would be an admission that the round had come to a halt. The EU, which initially offered what the US says is a 24.5 per cent cut in farm tariffs, is working on a second and final offer which it hopes to present later this week, proposing cuts likely to average around 40 per cent. But such a plan would fall short of what the US says is the minimum acceptable offer – to match the G20’s plan for an average 54 per cent cut…. Mr Mandelson wants an offer to at least match the cuts agreed in the previous “Uruguay round” of trade talks, which reduced farm tariffs by an average of 36 per cent. “If there is another bid, it will be a final and non-negotiable one, and will be dependent on progress in the goods and services parts of the talks,” the Commission official said. John Tsang, the Hong Kong commerce secretary due to host December’s ministerial, told the Financial Times that the process was “at crisis point”. “This agriculture deadlock could really derail the whole project,” Mr Tsang said, adding that the EU call for liberalisation in goods and services at the same time was pointless. “We all know agriculture is the key, the EU holds the key, and now is the time to turn the key.”
The situation is clearly causing Peter Mandelson to get hot under the collar. Why exactly is the EU acting so obdurate on this issue? Well, it’s mostly the French, and according to Thomas Fuller of the International Herald Tribune, it’s the power of terroir (link via Virginia Postrel)
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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