Lamy is given a month for new WTO accord by G8

Interview

French President Jacques Chirac said he was worried about the drift, during lunch at the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, according to a text. The sight of the needs of poor countries had been lost, particularly Africa, while the justification of the whole exercise was development. Even a WTO meeting, ended July 1, could not agree formulas to cut duties on farm and industrial goods as negotiators refused to make new concessions. The World Bank says a trade deal would pump $96 billion into the global economy. Without agreement in the next month, the talks may collapse. “The real question is whether Lamy has the ability to put anything substantial on the table, because if not, that's it,” said Julian Morris, executive director of International Policy Network, a London-based charity that advocates free trade. “Since things started to break down in October, there doesn't seem to have been any substantial commitment on the part of major nations to bring this round to a conclusion.” Five Developing Countries Heads of government from the world's eight leading industrial powers, in Russia will join their counterparts from Brazil, China, South Africa, Mexico and India on Monday in an attempt to give momentum to the negotiations that started in Doha, Qatar in 2001. Yesterday's statement said trade talks among the WTO's 149 governments must be concluded by the end of the year, before the U.S. negotiating mandate runs out next year. WTO nations had asked Lamy to act as a catalyst in putting together an agreement and to report back around the end of July. Yesterday, they said he has “a month” to do the work. G-8 leaders today also urged other WTO members to improve market access for farm and industrial goods and services. G-8 leaders also reiterated they will end farm export subsidies by 2013. The leaders of the U.S., JAPAN, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia are attending the summit. The negotiations, which Lamy says are in a “crisis,” have twice failed to produce the necessary blueprint, first in December in Hong Kong and again in April. The WTO's governments have stopped short this month of giving Lamy a mandate to word a deadlock-breaking agreement himself. French View Chirac said the United States should reduce agriculture subsidies and stop export aid, saying concessions made by European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson Oct. 28 are the most the 25-nation bloc can offer. He also asked large emerging countries like Brazil, China and India to make “a significant effort.” The G-8 recommitted to provide aid in exchange for trade with developing nations, boosting the amount they will donate to $4 billion this year, a statement from the meeting said. European Union reluctance to cut agricultural tariffs and U.S. efforts to protect payments to its farmers are at the heart of the rift. For Blair, the trade talks are part of the U.K.'s broader effort to fight poverty and disease in Africa. A year ago in Gleneagles, Scotland, G-8 nations agreed to double aid to Africa to $50 billion a year by 2010, erase the debts of 18 nations and drop trade barriers. (Bloomberg)

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