News

Doha Free Trade Talks Resume at WTO

Lisa Schlein

Trade experts from 151 countries are resuming international trade talks in Geneva. Delegates to the World Trade Organization talks hope to reach compromises on a number of issues that have been holding up an agreement to liberalize world trade for the past seven years. Lisa Schlein reports from WTO headquarters in Geneva.

Normally, nothing happens at the World Trade Organization during the first week of the New Year. But, these are not normal times. WTO spokesman, Josep Bosch, tells VOA there is a sense of urgency to restart negotiations on the so-called Doha round of trade talks immediately.

"We have been negotiating for seven years and after seven years people are honestly getting a bit tired and now is the time to say is it possible to reach something? Is it possible that we can get altogether into an agreement that would really make a good impact on the economy of the world? And, this cannot go on forever. So, that is why there is an urgency and, there is so much that already has been achieved that now it would be a real waste to leave everything to waste," said spokesman Bosch.

Though much has been achieved, much remains to be done. The main sticking point continues to be agriculture. Developing countries want greater access to the markets of rich countries for their farm exports.

They accuse the United States and European Union of distorting the market by giving huge subsidies and domestic support to their farmers and products. For their part, the rich countries want the poorer countries to lower the tariffs they impose on imported industrial goods.

Bosch says a balance has to be struck between these two competing interests. He says both the agricultural and industrial negotiations are closely linked.

"We always schedule the negotiations for industrial goods after agriculture because people are very much looking into what is the concession that rich countries are going to make in agriculture and then they are going to say, yes, I am prepared to give some concessions for the reduction of tariffs for your products to get into my market or not. This always depends on what happens in agriculture," explained Bosch.

Many observers believe it will be more difficult to reach a deal after the Bush Administration leaves office at the end of this year.

Bosch maintains a neutral position and says the United States is a very important member of the WTO and participates at all levels of the negotiations.

"Of course, everybody is watching the election in the United States because it is the biggest trader in the world. But, The WTO agenda cannot be just following one single country because as I said we are 151," he said.

Bosch says it is important to reach an agreement on liberalizing world trade as soon as possible. And then, he adds, WTO and its member countries will see what position the newly elected American officials take when they are in power.

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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs