WTO Ambassador Laments Doha Failure

August 11, 2006

Ronald Saborío, the Costa Rican ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO), pointed a finger in all directions Tuesday, blaming the Doha Round breakdown on “nationalist egoistic tactics” of the world’s leading trade powers.

“The European Union should have improved access to markets, the United States should have reduced agricultural subsidies, and India and Brazil should have lowered industrial tariffs,” he said, “Everyone is to blame.”

The night after flying back home from Geneva, Switzerland, where the Doha Round talks fell apart last week (TT, Aug. 4), Saborío appeared at the Tryp Corobocí Hotel in San José along with Foreign Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruiz to talk to reporters about the “enormous consequences” of the Doha negotiations collapse.

The Doha Round, which began in 2001 with the goal of eliminating barriers to trade and benefiting the least developed countries in the world, were suspended indefinitely last week, due to disagreements between G8 nations about freeing up agricultural and industrial markets. What he called the “most ambitious negotiations in the history of world trade” are now in “crisis.”

At stake, he said, are $280 billion that would be saved due to trade liberalization over the next 10 years under the agreements, a third of which would benefit developing countries like Costa Rica in the form of tariff advantages, better access to markets and benefits for developing countries that had already been negotiated in the round.

He said there are already signs that the talks could be reinitiated, and if they aren’t, countries would likely begin seeking out free trade agreements, in which case Latin America would be at a disadvantage compared to Asia, which has been able to move faster in approving such agreements.

He said the United States has already expressed interest in sitting back down at the negotiating table, and that next month’s meetings of the Group of Developing Countries (G-20) might be a boon for further talks.

 

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