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Doha Deadline Looms Again

posted on July 9, 2004


Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.

Only priority issues will draw any attention in official Washington for the remainder of the year as lawmakers focus on political party conventions and the November election. Much of the campaign focus will be on pocketbook matters -- Republicans trying to convince voters things are improving; Democrats saying the country can do better.

Government numbers out this week gave fodder for neither point of view. The number of people signing up for first-time jobless claims dropped last week, though officials admit that was likely due to workers taking temporary summer jobs. And retail sales at some of the nation's largest chains, including Wal-Mart climbed in June, but by what analysts called "disappointing" levels.

November's elections will have a bearing on another pocketbook issue  global trade. It's in that arena that negotiators are struggling to meet fast-approaching deadlines that hinge on breakthroughs in farm trade.

Doha Deadline Looms Again The Doha Development Round of international agricultural trade talks is picking up speed, thanks to an end-of-July deadline. Although the deadline has been postponed in the past, political events in the United States and abroad have forced the World Trade Organization to push for results. Observers note the presidential election in the U.S., as well as the selection of EU commissioners by the European Union, both take place before the end of the year.

If the deadline is not met by the end of July, it will be postponed yet again, most likely until 2005. Some fear such a long delay may cause world leaders to lose faith in the Doha Round and abandon it.

The fate of such negotiations and their possible outcomes is greatly influenced by the United States. A change of occupants at the White House could make or break the Doha Round and have an impact on the direction of future trade agreements.

Senator John Kerry is hiking full force down the campaign trail after announcing John Edwards as his Vice Presidential running mate on Tuesday. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, holds different positions on proposed trade agreements than President Bush, including the extent to which workers' rights and environmental protection should be dealt with in future trade pacts.

Kerry has been critical of what he calls "the lack of strong and enforceable labor and environmental standards" in the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA. He also claims that if elected president, he would veto the CAFTA pact and the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement if they were brought to his desk in their current form.


Tags: agriculture European Union Latin America news trade