News

    WTO Negotiations Off to Slow Start

    Organizers of the World meeting in Hong Kong say negotiations are off to a slow start, with delegates of the 149 economies very far apart on key issues.

    Day two of the negotiations saw participants hardening their positions. In one key area, African cotton-exporting nations demanded an immediate commitment from rich nations to end cotton subsidies, while developed countries remained firm on their offers to end them gradually.

    WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell tried to sound upbeat, but warned time may run out on these talks.

    "It is a normal tendency to engage in brinksmanship at a meeting like this," he said. "Clearly, though, in the last 10 years or so, it has become clear that as more and more countries become more and more engaged in the process, the notion of waiting until the last minute becomes more and more treacherous."

    The six-day talks aim to make progress in implementing the Doha Development Agenda, a plan to lift millions out of poverty through freer trade.

    U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman on Wednesday said the WTO should set a new deadline to keep the pressure on.

    Protests by anti-globalization groups continued, but were mostly peaceful.

    Activist groups that want to ensure any new trade deal is fair to poor countries, made their point by gathering at the conference venue and singing "No to GATS, our world is not for sale," to the tune of a popular Christmas song.

    GATS stands for the General Agreement on Trade in Services, an initiative to allow nations to more freely export services such as insurance and banking. This is one area where poorer nations say they are least able to compete.

    Agriculture and industrial market access are among the thorniest issue in these negotiations. Many of the poorest nations are reluctant to open their markets to goods from rich countries, which they fear would hurt their farmers, leaving them with no other viable industries.

    "Quota free, duty free, market access, that is very good. Very important. But when you get duty free [and] quota free and you have nothing to offer, does that help you? You have market access, but you have nothing to offer, nothing to produce! Does it really help you," asked Samuel Amehou, Benin's ambassador.

    Mario Matus, Chile's permanent representative to the World Trade Organization, says developing nations such as his want balanced competition.

    "What we want are clear and precise rules that allow us to compete on a level playing field and not compete against the subsidies of the nations with great economies, who are the ones who have money to subsidize," he said. "We don't have the money to subsidize."

    The United States and proponents of free trade say trade is the only way to lift developing countries out of poverty.

    Mr. Matus speaks from experience in Chile, which has raised its standard of living by liberalizing trade.

    "Always, the beneficiaries are the consumers and, foremost, the poor because they are the ones who produce more and cheaper products when there is true and open competition," he noted.

    Convincing poorer nations of that is a tough job, and while no one expects a thorough agreement to emerge from these six days of negotiations, organizers hope the momentum to keep the talks going will continue at least through Sunday - the day this meeting ends.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora