Page last updated at 18:44 GMT, Thursday, 21 June 2007 19:44 UK

Latest world trade talks collapse

Indian farmer
Agriculture has been the main sticking point

The latest negotiations to try to secure a new global trade deal have collapsed without agreement.

Trade leaders from the European Union, US, India and Brazil had been meeting in Germany to find a breakthrough on the long-delayed Doha round of talks.

Brazil and India blamed the latest failure on the EU and US not offering enough concessions on agriculture.

The EU and US countered that Brazil and India were not opening up their markets to Western manufactured goods.

'Useless'

Brazil's Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said the Brazilian and Indian delegations had walked away from the negotiations in the eastern German city of Potsdam, because they had proved to be "useless".

This week's negotiations could not generate political consensus to meaningfully open markets to new trade - particularly in manufactured goods
Susan Schwab, US Trade Representative

India's Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath added that "there will have to be a substantial attitude change" from the EU and US.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said: "The president is disappointed that certain countries are blocking an opportunity to expand trade."

US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said: "To meet the Doha Round's promise, developed and advanced developing economies need to open their domestic markets for agricultural goods, industrial products, and services."

"Unfortunately, this week's negotiations could not generate political consensus to meaningfully open markets to new trade - particularly in manufactured goods."

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson echoed this argument, saying that "while in Europe we are prepared to pay a lot, we cannot do it on less to nothing in return".

Commercial interests

The collapse of these secretive trade talks is a good opportunity to develop an alternative approach to trade
Joe Zacune, Friends of the Earth, trade campaigner

Environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth greeted the collapsed talks as good news.

Trade campaigner Joe Zacune said: "The collapse of these secretive trade talks is a good opportunity to develop an alternative approach to trade that works for developing countries and the environment."

He said the proposals had been driven mainly by the EU and the US putting "commercial interests of their corporations before the needs of poor communities and their natural resources".

Following the collapse, the EU said it had been prepared to cut its average farm tariffs by more than half.

"It took decades to obtain the same result in industry. We were prepared to eliminate export subsidies by 2013 and cut trade distorting domestic farm subsidies by more than 70%."

Prolonged negotiations

The Doha Round of talks - named after the Qatari capital where discussions started in 2001 - have been repeatedly delayed because of continuing disagreements.

A key meeting in Hong Kong in December 2005 that was due to have established the final agreement ended in failure, and negotiations have drifted since then, despite a series of follow-up talks.

World Trade Organization boss Pascal Lamy recently warned that without a breakthrough very soon, the Doha Round could be put on hold for several years.

In the US, the President will lose the authority to negotiate a trade deal without Congress's ability to offer amendments on 1 July, making it more difficult to agree any future deal.

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Why Brazil and India walked out of the talks



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