CANCUN, Mexico, September 14, 2003 -- CropChoice news -- NY Times:
Trade talks dissolved today when a group of developing
nations walked out of the final session saying wealthy
nations had failed to offer sufficient compromises on
agriculture and other issues.
It marked a temporary halt to the World Trade Organization's
trading round dedicated to helping developing nations.
Several countries were disappointed that the world economy
would not get a lift from the prospect of further opening
of global markets.
Richard L. Bernal, a delegate from Jamaica, said that
a group of African, Caribbean, Asian and Latin countries
felt they had little choice. The United States and Europe,
he said, were not generous enough on reducing their
agriculture subsidies, on helping poor African countries
dependent on cotton, or understanding their difficulties
in taking on such new trade responsibilities as investment.
"There is nothing for us small countries in this
proposal," he said. "We don't want any of
Hailed by Robert B. Zoellick, the United States trade
representative, as a once in a generation opportunity
to further open global markets, there were tensions
from the start when a group of 21 developing nations
demanded that their ideas be given equal billing with
a paper based on a European-American compromise.
The failure means the end of talks here and the transfer
of discussions back to Geneva.
Senior trade officials scheduled a news conference
later this evening.
George Oduorong'wen, a delegate from Kenya, told reporters
that the developing nations should not be blamed for
"It's not our fault that the talks collapsed,"
he said. "No deal is better than a bad deal."
Rather than begin negotiating the pivotal issue of
agriculture, the final trade session opened up with
such issues as investment. This proved to be the breaking
point because poorer countries say they do not have
the wherewithal to handle such complicated issues. Nor,
they said, do they want new trading laws that could
intrude on their ability to decide their own standards
for the environment, labor and other social standards.
"It got to be too much for us," said Bakary
Fojana, a delegate from Guinea. "The cotton offer
was unjust and ignored what was demanded by African
nations. Coming into this meeting everyone said, yes,
cotton is an important question; yes, agriculture is
important. But when it came down to negotiations our
daily problems were ignored."