- The Washington Times - Friday, July 7, 2006

The Bush administration’s top trade official yesterday said the U.S. would not give up on global trade talks that have deadlocked, and she chastised India, Brazil and other rising economic powers for contributing too little to negotiations.

World Trade Organization talks last week in Geneva broke up with no agreement on a deal that would promote commerce and boost the economies of the body’s 149 members. It was the latest in a series of breakdowns as the U.S., Europe and developing nations have been unable to agree on a formula to cut rich country farm subsidies while opening all but the poorest markets to greater competition.

“The U.S. has no intention of giving up, but we also expect others to step up to the plate,” said U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab.

The European Union and a number of developing countries have repeatedly complained that the United States is offering too little and demanding too much from its trading partners.

Differences between the United States and the European Union, in particular, have been the focal point of the negotiations. The 25-nation bloc has demanded that the U.S. make deeper cuts in agriculture subsidies that are expected to reach almost $22 billion this year. The U.S. has criticized European subsidies, which are even more lavish, and trade barriers that protect its farmers.

Mrs. Schwab yesterday faulted Europe for proposals she called “vague” and “full of loopholes.” But she also called on India, Brazil and China to acknowledge their growing economic clout, rather than seeking some of the same protection as the world’s poorest nations.

“There are some developing countries … arguably emerging or existing powerhouses, that would like to hide behind the least developed and poorest among us,” said Mrs. Schwab. “The Brazils, the Chinas and the Indias of this world can and should be expected to participate in this negotiation including opening their markets to other developing countries.”

Mrs. Schwab and trade officials from other nations are, in part, looking to avoid blame if the talks collapse completely, said Dan Ikenson, associate director of the Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank.

“I think we’re now in the public relations game,” Mr. Ikenson said.

There is limited hope to save the talks. WTO chief Pascal Lamy is traveling to capitals trying to encourage a breakthrough, and leaders from the Group of Eight industrialized nations meet next week in St. Petersburg to discuss an array of issues, including trade.

“There is a session where the G-8 leaders will probably be talking about trade, and there is an outreach session where we will have some other leaders including [Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva], [Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh] and others,” Mrs. Schwab said.

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