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Indybay Feature
WTO talks keep trade round on life support
by wsws (reposted)
Monday Dec 19th, 2005 6:59 AM
In the end an agreement was reached and outright collapse avoided, but the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting in Hong Kong could do nothing to disguise the deep divisions within the world economy. And the agreement itself is something of an absurdity.
Under its terms, the 149 member nations have until April 30 to agree to the framework for the completion of the Doha round by the end of 2006. In other words, they must carry out in just four months what they have failed to do in the four years since the round began.

Throughout the six days of negotiations the main sticking point was agriculture and the commitment by the European Union to end export subsidies. The EU said it would do so by 2013. Most of the other participants were demanding a deadline of 2010. The EU held out for 2013 and the others decided to back down in order to preserve the illusion that the round was still going ahead.

The amount involved in the conflict was not great. The subsidies are worth about 2.7 billion euros a year, compared to the EU’s annual spending of more than 40 billion euros on agriculture. But many poorer nations claim that the export subsidies cut prices in world markets and undermine their position.

Read More
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2005/dec2005/wto-d19.shtml
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