May 06, 2005

On The Road Again?

The central front in the war on trade barriers is the Doha round of talks, much delayed but still the object of hope. People will have to judge for themselves how realistic that hope is based on the reaction to this week's agreement in Paris about how to calculate the value of tariffs on farm products.

This subject is just as technical and tedious as it sounds. Obviously, though, you can't reach agreement on how to reduce tariffs without common measures of how much they are worth, so from that standpoint the Paris agreement removes a major obstacle to putting together the outline of a trade liberalization agreement by the time representatives of the 147 countries participating in the Doha round meet in Hong Kong in December.

But additional obstacles loom in the areas of agricultural production and export subsidies and import quotas, manufacturing, and services that look more formidable than the disagreements about how to value farm tariffs. Optimistic takes on the Paris agreement come from the new US Trade Representative, Rob Portman , who seems to be off to a good start, and the pro-free trade Economist. A more restrained appraisal appeared the other day in the National Business Review of New Zealand. The Deadline of Deadlines for a final agreement, according to the Economist, is July 2007, when President Bush's grant of "fast-track" negotiating authority from Congress expires.

Posted by at May 6, 2005 01:59 PM | TrackBack (6)
Comments

I hate to break it to you, but the world is no longer interested in negotiating big trade agreements because the USA wants them.

Which is a genuine shame, because putting an end to agricultural subsidies would make it far easier for third world nations to develop the capacity to feed themselves more readily.

Bush has made it glaringly obvious that it doesn't consider any international agreements binding on the US.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at May 6, 2005 09:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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