By  on June 12, 2007

GENEVA — Nations with emerging economies, led by Argentina and South Africa, said Monday that aggressive demands for industrial tariff cuts by the U.S. and European Union in the global trade talks are unbalanced and could have dire economic consequences.

"For us, it's an absolute recipe for disaster in terms of the impact it would have in developing countries in terms of de-industrialization,"; said Mandisi Mpahlwa, South Africa's trade and industry minister, at the end of a trade ministers' meeting here of the so-called NAMA 11 group, named for nations with interests in the Non-Agricultural Market Access sector of the Doha talks.

The World Trade Organization-sponsored Doha Round is aimed at reducing or eliminating tariffs and related barriers to trade, but has been stalled by competing interests among countries and nation groups.

Néstor Stancanelli, Argentina's undersecretary of state for international negotiations, said the rich countries are offering to cut tariffs by 36 percent and in return are asking for 70 percent from NAMA 11.

"This is totally unbalanced, it's crazy,"; he said.

The NAMA 11 group consists of 10 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Namibia, the Philippines, South Africa, Tunisia and Venezuela.

Brazil's foreign minister, Celso Amorim, and India's minister of commerce and industry, Kamal Nath, also attended the NAMA 11 gathering, which was preceded by a ministerial session of the influential G20 group on agriculture.

Developing countries cannot be expected to pay for the Doha Round by making big cuts, while "developed countries make minimal reductions to their own industrial tariffs,"; NAMA 11 ministers said in a joint statement.

The ministers also linked the agriculture and industrial goods segments of the talks, and stressed an outcome that seeks to lower the contribution of rich countries in agriculture, but seeks to make disproportionate and imbalanced demands in NAMA as unfair. A successful deal has to strike a balance between the two, they said.

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab and her counterparts from the EU, Brazil and India, known as the G4, are slated to meet next week in Potsdam, Germany, in a bid to narrow the gaps in positions to help pave the way for a breakthrough WTO deal in July.At last week's G8 meeting, President Bush and other world leaders stressed that convergence can be reached to conclude the round by the end of 2007, and noted the time has come for "tangible results.";

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