The Catholic aid agency, CAFOD, has expressed deep regret at the failure of the World Trade Organisation to clinch a deal on reviving the Doha development round of trade talks. CAFOD said that developing countries had an enormous amount to benefit from the Doha round, which now looks to be in serious trouble. CAFOD's Head of Public Policy George Gelber said: "CAFOD takes no pleasure in the breakdown of the talks. The right deal at Doha could have raised millions of people out of poverty. Instead, Cancun is a major setback for the multilateral trading system. This can only be bad news for the world's poor who had most to gain from a just rules based trading system. "It is clear that the EU and US bear a heavy responsibility for the failure of Cancun, though they are not the only ones to blame. The Singapore Issues of investment, competition, government procurement and trade facilitation have been a massive and damaging diversion from the real issues of world trade - especially development and agriculture. They should never have been on the agenda in the first place. Without them there could have been real progress." "Before Cancun over 100 countries said that they did not want to discuss the four new issues. But the EU refused to listen. The arrogant and disdainful assumption of the European Commission on forcing a deal on its agenda is responsible for the breakdown." "The EU must now do some serious soul searching on how it conducts negotiations. The last minute concession by EU Trade representative Pascal Lamy to drop two of the four new issues, keeping only trade facilitation and government procurement, came too late to avert breakdown. It was a bungled negotiation that EU member states and the European Commission itself need to reflect upon." "Worse still, on agriculture, the litmus test of rich countries, commitment to development, the conference was heading towards a deal that would have offered only crumbs to developing countries, especially the poorest of them." "The EU must grapple with its morally repugnant and economically crazy Common Agriculture Policy. The EU has made only timid changes with its CAP reform, and is still committed to heavy support for agriculture, leading to the dumping of cheap food on the Third World and the impoverishment of some of the world's poorest people." "If we are to take any comfort from Cancun, it is that developing countries organised and asserted themselves in a way they have not done before. But the EU and US failed to recognise that they could no longer bully their way to an unfair deal. Unfortunately the losers will be the world's poor, those who stood to gain most form a genuine development round. "Failure at Cancun is a setback for the WTO and a major blow to multilateralism. With the rich countries turning more and more to bilateral deals, developing countries will be in even weaker positions to get fair trade rules. Therefore, the WTO must not be allowed to fade into irrelevance. Developed and developing countries face a huge task in rescuing the World Trade Organisation from impending obscurity. That will depend on the WTO member coming up with fair trade rules that enables the poor countries to develop while allowing the global economy to flourish."
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