OPTIMISTIC MOOD FOR TRADE TALKS
Byline: Joanna Ramey
WASHINGTON — The U.S. and European Union may still be having trade spats that could erupt into retaliatory trade sanctions, but all is not war between the trading partners.
That’s the message U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and European Union Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy brought to a press conference Tuesday. After two days of meetings, the trade ministers presented a unified front, declaring that the sometime adversaries are working in tandem to jump-start a new round of global trade talks in November in Doha, Qatar.
They want to avoid another breakdown in trade-liberalizing talks among the 141 World Trade Organization members, as seen in 1999 during their last meeting in Seattle. All that seemed to come out of that confab were complaints from underdeveloped countries of being ignored by the U.S. and EU, and increased visibility of antiglobalization protesters.
“We have frictions here and there,” Lamy said of the U.S.-EU bilateral trade relationship.
However, Lamy said the trading partners are working eagerly together on the WTO because the economic powers share responsibility for helping to keep the international trading system on track.
“If we fail to launch this [WTO] round, the poorest nations will suffer the most,” said Zoellick, stressing the importance of strengthening the global economy through multilateral trade relationships that benefit all countries.
The two trade negotiators gave few details about how they plan to bring unity to the WTO, like demonstrating a sensitivity to the concerns of developing nations over their lack of financial capability to meet global trading standards.
The confab between Zoellick and Lamy occurred as President Bush was preparing to leave for Europe today for a meeting with the world’s economic powers at the G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy. At a speech at the World Bank on Tuesday, Bush repeated his call for expanded global free trade to hel poor nations.