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Schwab Upbeat About Future Trade Talks

posted on December 1, 2006

Deadlocked since 2003, the 149 member nations of the World Trade Organization still are conducting quiet negotiations. The factors influencing the impasse remain centered on farm subsidies in both the U.S. and European Union.

Negotiating an all-encompassing trade deal is far from easy. With the U.S. midterm elections over now and Democrats coming to power, the world is watching to see what happens with upcoming farm bill negotiations. Most notably, will Democrats try to push farm subsidies higher?

To that end, the Bush administration this week asked Democrats for patience and, above all, cooperation in not complicating future world trade talks.

Schwab Upbeat About Future Trade Talks This week, U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said the U.S. must not squander opportunities at the world trade talks in light of the change in political power in Washington.

Susan Schwab, United States Trade Representative: "We walked away from a bad deal in July. We're prepared to walk away from a bad deal, again, if necessary. But we cannot let a strong potentially positive Doha agreement slip through our fingers. We can't afford to let that happen."

Schwab was quick to point out the far-reaching benefits of successful trade negotiations.

Susan Schwab, United States Trade Representative: "We do agree that trade liberalization can create higher standards and protections as countries trade more and prosper, they seek higher standards for both their people and their environment. Thanks to trade promotion authority currently on the books United States has been able to raise global labor and environmental standards in every single one of our free trade agreements."

While Schwab was speaking in the U.S., a small party of Congressmen went to Geneva to speak with Pascal Lamy, Director-general of the World Trade Organization. Among the group was farm state lawmaker Ron Kind, a Wisconsin Democrat. Kind wants other trading blocs like the European Union to make the next move now that U.S. proposals are on the table. If there was some viable counter-offer, Kind believes there would be a better chance for agricultural reforms being made in the upcoming U.S. farm bill.

Lamy is hoping the behind-the-scenes technical negotiations would help jump start political talks. There appears to be some movement on that front. When the G-8 leaders meet early next year in Davos, Switzerland, there may be some negotiations happening on the sidelines. Representatives of several nations that have been major players in previous trade talks are expected to attend, including the European Unions, Japan, and Brazil.

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