‘Days when Western nations can swing deals are over’

July 31st, 2008 - 10:44 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, July 31 (IANS) Calling India “one of the new standard bearers of an emboldened developing world”, a major Canadian daily Wednesday blamed New Delhi for derailing the WTO talks in Geneva and said days when Western nations could influence international deals were over. “Sending a powerful message to the world’s richest countries, India has rejected a long-sought deal to cut global trade barriers on the grounds that it wouldn’t have protected poor farmers,” wrote the Globe and Mail daily under the headline `India nixes WTO deal to cut tariffs’.

“The deal fell apart in Geneva after India, one of the new standard bearers of an emboldened developing world, balked at US demands that countries limit emergency tariffs to shield their farmers from sudden import surges,” the respected daily said.

It said Indian Trade Minister Kamal Nath, speaking for more than 30 developing countries, insisted that he wasn’t willing to sacrifice the “livelihood of poor and subsistence farmers” for the sake of a deal.

Getting the trade talks back on track may require a new consensus on globalization between rich and poor countries, the newspaper wrote.

Quoting Lawrence Herman, a trade lawyer at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP in Toronto , it said, “The days when Western countries can swing a deal are over. No question this is a lost opportunity, for international business. There were just way too many unresolved issues to deal with in 10 days.”

The collapse of the WTO talks after 10 days of intense negotiations rules out a deal this year, the newspaper said, citing political fatigue and looming elections in the US .

But quoting trade experts, the paper said the Doha round, launched in 2001 in Qatar to dismantle protectionist trade rules, was effectively over, further marginalizing the 14-year-old WTO.

“For all practical purposes, the Doha round is dead,” it quoted American University economist Arturo Porzecanski as saying.

According to him, a WTO deal would have helped curb check global food prices by cutting the subsidies and quotas that hamper agricultural trade. The daily said a successful WTO deal would have boosted world trade in farm goods by $35 billion and industrial goods by $95 billion a year.

But the biggest commercial prize for the world would have been the freeing up of trade in services such as banking and telecommunications, it added.

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