Author: Paula L. Green
Lamy: Pulled the plug on
To no one’s surprise, agriculture was the stickler that prompted Lamy to relinquish hope of overcoming wealthy nations’ refusal to sharply reduce protection for their farmers. Three days later, the WTO’s ruling body, the General Council, voted formally to suspend the talks for the foreseeable future.
On the day of the announcement, Lamy appealed to the trade ministers of the 149 WTO member countries to get the talks back on track. The poorest and weakest countries would suffer the most if the “time-out” turns into a failure, said Lamy of the negotiations launched nearly five years ago in Doha, Qatar, as a way to help integrate poorer nations into the global economy. A member of the French Socialist Party who began his career in the civil service at the French finance ministry’s auditing agency, Lamy also asked countries to “cease the vitriolic attacks that render a return to the negotiating table more difficult.”
Now Lamy, who helped rescue the troubled Crédit Lyonnais in the 1990s and served as the European Union’s trade commissioner in Brussels from 1999 to 2004, must watch as the United States and Brazil take the lead in efforts to revive the Doha round.
This month US trade representative Susan Schwab will travel to Australia for the 10th anniversary meeting of the Cairns Group of agricultural exporters after a scheduled meeting with ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Kuala Lumpur in August. And after meeting with Brazil’s foreign minister, Celso Amorim, in July, Schwab said they would press other ministers to get the talks back on track.
Paula L. Green