Thursday, December 03, 2009

Some good news from WTO meet in Geneva

This week's meeting of the World Trade Organization has concluded. While the trade ministers did not talk about a world trade pact, there were some regional agreements made.

A group of developing nations has agreed to cut tariffs on a whole host of goods. Also Brazil promised to open up their markets, and there was an agreement to end the "banana wars" between the US and the EU.

However, there was no movement on the Doha round of talks for a world wide trade deal. For a good explanation on why the US is stopping any concessions on a deal, do to this story from IPS and reporter Sanjay Suri.

Our snippet from this Reuters article concentrates on the South-South deal. Writers Jonathan Lynn and Jason Rhodes give us more details.

Jorge Taiana, foreign minister of Argentina, said the South-South pact showed developing countries were keen to clinch deals to expand trade.

"This is a clear demonstration that the developing countries are willing to continue working on strengthening South-South trade and in a process of liberalisation compatible with development," Taiana told a news conference.

The South-South deal includes trade heavyweights Brazil, India, Argentina and South Korea but not China.

It would reduce by one-fifth the actual tariffs countries apply to 70 percent of each other's industrial goods rather than the maximum ceilings negotiated at the WTO. The precise details would be worked out by the end of September 2010.

The absence of a major item on the WTO ministerial agenda gave trade officials from developing countries, who rarely meet in person, the chance to hold a series of face-to-face meetings and seek to forge new regional alliances.

Ministers from India, the Mercosur group of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, and the SACU customs union of South Africa and its neighbours launched a study on a possible regional trade agreement between their countries.

The authors of this article also received quotes from the US representative who talked about completing Doha, but we can all see through that, and didn't include it in our snippet.

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