Mandelson hits out after Doha talks collapse

26-07-2006

Peter Mandelson has blamed the US for the collapse of the Doha round of trade talks yesterday.

The EU trade commissioner expressed his anger and disappointment at the stalemate and insisted that an extremely important deal for developing countries has been let slip.

Last-ditch talks between the world's leading trading powers fell through after a final effort by the World Trade Organisation to salvage a global agreement to boost trade in farm and industrial goods failed.

The discussions represented the culmination of four years of talks in Doha, but ultimately ministers were unable to agree a deal on reforming world farming trade.

Speaking on BBC Radio Five Live this morning, Mr Mandelson said he was "very disappointed" about the collapse of the talks and blamed the US for refusing to budge on agricultural subsidies.

"I am frankly quite angry that something that was avoidable has not been avoided, because I think that for the sake of a few billion dollars worth of American farm subsidies, we have let fall from our grasp what was a very important trade deal," he said.

"It's one that we could have brought off; I wish we had. It would have meant a great deal for the global economy, and in particular for developing countries."

He said developing countries will lose a lot of trading opportunities and strengthened trade rules as a result of the collapsed talks.

"[The developing counties and their ministers] wanted this round to succeed," he added.

"They knew that at its heart we needed to attack the farm subsidies which more than anything else trade and drive down opportunities for developing countries.

"The United States refused to show any flexibility on in the talks just before they collapsed."

But John Hilary, the campaign director at War on Want, has said he is "glad" the talks collapsed because they were heading in the wrong direction for developing countries.

"At the end of the day the trade talks had gone completely off track," he told the same programme.

"To begin with they were billed as this development round which was going to put the needs of the poorest countries first, but by now they have degenerated into a self-interest bonanza for the rich countries.

"That's why we're glad, because they'd gone completely away from their original mandate."

Pascal Lamy, the director-general of the WTO, has called a full 149-member meeting in response to the diplomatic stalemate.


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