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New Global Trade Deal Could Be Four Years Away, Says Analyst

The collapse of world trade talks Monday poses a serious setback for developing countries trying to gain better access for their agricultural and manufactured goods. The International Food Policy Research Institute says, despite that, opportunities still exist to break the impasse over subsidies and tariffs.

Antoine Bouet is a senior research fellow at the institute. In Washington, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about prospects for a global trade deal.

“I think that there is still some hope. Why? Because first…the previous round of trade negotiations lasted eight years. So, we are today only at the fifth year of trade negotiations. Of course, it’s going to be very difficult to cut a deal in the next two years because mainly of the US political agenda. But I think an advantage of the situation is that we can cut a better deal, especially for developing countries and especially for the poorest countries.”

The United States has blamed other nations for the failure of the trade talks, while the EU and others have pointed their fingers at the US.

Bouet says, “It’s very difficult to play the blame game, which is to try to know exactly who is responsible for this failure.” He says that the US, EU nations and many other countries have all contributed to the failure through their protectionist policies.

To overcome the impasse on subsidies and tariffs, the IFPRI senior researcher says, “First, it would be extremely important to give full, free access to the poorest countries in wealthiest markets. Second…to reduce the number of sensitive and special products. That is to say the number of exemptions to agricultural tariff liberalization. And third…to get more domestic support in cotton for African countries. And also to deal a very good package on aid for trade.” Bouet says his proposals could take up to four years to complete.