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World Economic Forum Ends, But Will It Lead to Resumption of Trade Talks?

The World Economic Forum has ended on an optimistic note that there may be a quick resumption of global trade talks. The talks collapsed last July when the United States, European Union and developing countries failed to reach agreement on agricultural tariffs and subsidies.

Alex Wijeratna, a trade policy specialist for the NGO ActionAid, monitored developments in Davos, Switzerland. From London, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the chances for a resumption of trade talks.

“It looks hesitant and slightly reluctant from the developing country point of view. We know that a lot of the African countries really felt they were sidelined and neglected and that their interests really weren’t coming to the fore in what was being discussed in Davos…. We’re warning this is a dangerous thing at this stage,” he says.

Why dangerous? Wijeratna says, “The deal that’s emerging is actually not a deal that will really tackle poverty. And that’s the big, big sticking point. It’s really not going to be a benefit to lots of the poorest countries worldwide. And it will be presented as something that will be beneficial, but a lot of the developing countries know that actually they’re being asked to open up their markets for essentially peanuts. So, we’re saying at this stage be very tentative about getting into these final end game negotiations.”

The ActionAid trade expert says the big issues are still agricultural tariffs and subsidies. He says Brazil and India are also big players in negotiations on these issues and may be interested in working out a deal with the United States and EU.