Nine years after the collapse of the Doha Round of trade talks, it appears as if another year will come and go without all members of the World Trade Organization coming to a final agreement to advance global trade.
WTO talks made minimal progress in Bali in December 2013. In a December ITE post, I wrote:
Yet, last week, a trade deal was concluded in which a “Peace Clause” allows India to maintain the subsidies as a part of its food security program without worrying about a case being brought against the country before the WTO. In other words, India’s food security program is protected from being challenged as a form of ”trade distorting” agricultural subsidies. (See USTR Fact Sheet for more details)
It appears as if the members also reached a mutual understanding in terms of trade facilitation. Therefore, efforts will be made to improve customs facilities and border procedures, among other areas, to create the smooth and efficient flow of goods across borders.
Apparently, this issue over Indian subsidies to farmers remains a sticking point and has undermined efforts toward trade facilitation by today’s deadline.
Disagreements surrounding agricultural subsidies have resulted in stalled or collapsed trade talks in the WTO and in other trading schemes such as the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Many of the larger developing countries, such as Brazil and South Africa, have criticized the United States and the EU for their subsidies to farmers. However, according some reports, ministers from these same countries failed to show support for blocking the Bali trade deal. In addition, even India’s own business community expressed an interest in the Bali agreement.
The WTO surely faces an uphill battle. With so many interests at the table, it may be difficult to have a substantial breakthrough that will breathe life back into the Doha Round of talks. The smaller alternative trade negotiations that the United States has entered into, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement, are facing challenges of their own.
Once again, these ongoing trade talks that are continuing well past original deadlines are on the ropes. It will take the commitment of every member to reduce subsidies and support efforts to provide the assistance that many countries need to develop their customs procedures and infrastructure so that they can benefit from trade and investment.
Earlier related posts:
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