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US takes on “advanced developing countries” on Doha talks

Accusing a “handful” of “advanced developing countries” of “masking” their “narrow interests” behind claims for speaking for the rest of the developing world, the US said it is concerned the way trade negotiations are moving ahead of crucial talks for concluding Doha round.

“It is basically the case of the elephant hiding behind the mice,” US Trade Representative Susan Schwab told reporters yesterday, stressing that recent developments have moved the negotiations towards less balanced outcome than Washington can support. Schwab did not name the countries, but her reference to India and China was quite clear as they are among the nations seeking reduction in US farm subsidies which they contend distort trade and put the farmers in developing countries at disadvantage. The United States is currently in the process of approving a massive new farm subsidies bill.

Maintaining that the US is committed to conclusion of the Doha round of trade negotiations during the current year, she warned that agreement will not come at any price. Both developing and advanced developing countries need to make contribution in opening up the markets, she stressed. “I can tell you frankly, we are concerned about the directions the Doha negotiations are making at Geneva,” she said, opposing new drafts on agriculture and manufacturing. Of particular concern is the “continued” unwillingness of a “handful” of “advanced developing countries” to make meaningful market access contribution as a part of the round that are commensurate with their stake in global trading system and benefits they derive from it, she said. (The Economic Times)