The Doha Round of global trade talks was suspended yesterday after key players in the World Trade Organization (WTO) failed again to reach a consensus on agriculture and industrial trade.
Trade and agriculture ministers of the so-called G-6, namely the US, the EU, Australia, Japan, Brazil and India, announced that the collapse of two-days of negotiations had been due to persistent differences.
"The Doha Round talks were suspended today, we feel profoundly disappointed and sad," EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said at a press conference.
US Trade Representative Susan Schwab also said she was "very disappointed" at the failure of the latest efforts to reach a consensus.
Schwab and US Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns said the US had put forward a very bold offer on reducing domestic farm subsidies, while the EU and major developing members of the WTO failed to do enough on market opening.
But Mandelson said the US should be held responsible for the latest failure and the suspension of the Doha Round talks.
All five parties of the G-6 showed flexibility in the two-day negotiations in Geneva, while the US did not recognize that and refused to do its part to enable an agreement to be reached, Mandelson said.
He said it was the US stiff position that had led to the suspension of the nearly five years of Doha Round talks.
Mandelson also said that the suspension of the Doha Round was a big failure for the 149 WTO members, who would pay a heavy price as a result.
He saw no hope of the talks being resumed in the near future.
WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy is expected to officially announce the suspension of the Doha Round after an informal meeting of all WTO members.
Lamy has indicated during the two-day talks with the G-6 that he would not set any timetable for the resumption of the Doha Round.
The Doha Round was launched in 2001 with an avowed aim to lift millions out of poverty through fairer trading conditions. The round has been billed as a once-in-a-generation chance to boost global growth.
The G-6 countries account for some three quarters of world trade and represent a wide range of commercial interests. Consensus among the six parties is considered crucial for a general agreement of all 149 WTO members.
(Xinhua News Agency July 25, 2006)