Catholic agency says US and EU are wrecking new trade talks

 The Catholic aid agency CAFOD fears that the new round of multilateral trade negotiations launched at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial in Doha a year ago today is being wrecked by the United States and European Union. A commitment was given through the Doha Development Agenda to make the international trade system support efforts in the developing world to reduce poverty. But now CAFOD fears that even the modest promises made to developing countries at Doha are under threat because the narrow economic self-interest and commercial lobbying in the US and EU. CAFOD's trade analyst Duncan Green, a veteran of the WTO meetings in Doha and Seattle, said: "A deal on agriculture is crucial if the Doha round is going to succeed. But the EU and US have soured the atmosphere by unilaterally raising farm subsidies in the past year. "Far from moving forward, last year has seen both the US and EU regress. The US government's Farm Act committed the country to spending an extra $18 billion a year for the next ten years on agricultural subsidies. "Likewise, the EU's recent decision to increase farm spending by 1 percent a year from its base in 2006 to 2013 is just another example of the "you liberalise, we subsidies" hypocrisy that endangers the whole WTO process. Developing country demands for a 'development box' to allow them to protect small farmers from surges of subsidised imports are being ignored or watered down to the point of meaninglessness. The Agriculture Committee meets week beginning 18 November for what may be a last attempt to get development issues on the table. CAFOD is calling for: An end to the developed world dumping agricultural surpluses on the worlds market The right of developing countries to protect themselves from dumped production, through tariffs and other measures. The creation of meaningful rules that allow for exceptions to protect the needs of vulnerable populations in developing countries. Duncan Green said: "Most previous rounds have broken down at some point, and the Doha round looks like it's going the same way. Breakdowns traditionally allow cooling off periods and a lowering of expectations. The disaster would be if the expectations lowered were precisely those of generating a pro-development outcome. The 'Doha Development Agenda' is looking increasingly like a desert mirage."

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