Monday 11 June 2007

World Trade talks; stalled again

World trade talks must be the single most complex negotiation on Earth (apart from evening passes out from mrs slicker). At these almost continuous talks every country has a veto and no agreement can be reached without unanimity. With hundred's of countries participating, all with different needs and issues, it is really amazing that deals ever get done.

In the past few years, the current Doha round has stalled. Strangely, the successful WTO institution that was developed to police world trade and has done so quite fairly, seems to have inhibited talks. Perhaps the US and others are more wary that they cannot ignore past agreements

The reason I wanted to highlight the talks is that the media in general make a pigs ear of the reporting; either by taking a partisan nationalist interest line, spewing idiotic leftist propaganda or focusing on the effects on very tiny and specific parts of the economy.

At this time the negotiations are stalled for 3 big reasons, farm subsidies in Europe and America, lack of copyright in developing nations for 3rd world product and opening developing markets to the burgeoning service and industrial industries of the West.

Of these, the West's total reluctance to reduce farm subsidies - even in these hysterical times of bio-fuels etc, is simply disgraceful. The world is effectively held to ransom by a few US states and the 4% of Europeans who work in the farm sector. The US is actually worse than Europe in this area which may come as a surprise, so their new Trade Representative needs to have some sharp words with GWB - all the US states that benefit are Republican ones though so don't hold your breath.

China, Brazil and India do have work to do though as well, all of them have high tariffs to 'protect' industries from the west. As any good economist will tell you, this is just nonsense and of course their markets would benefit from more competition.

Illegal copyright is a harder one though as it will actually be quite hard to enforce and therefore countries will not want to give hostages to fortune.

This latest round of talks is important though, with a buoyant world economy more tariff reductions will help the to reduce the effects of the next recession. With further delay and a downturn in the world economy, the countries of the world will inevitably slide further towards protectionism.

Finally, reducing first world agricultural subsidies will be a huge boon to some of the world's poorest states; so any anti-globalisation protests against these talks will show the stupidity of those protesting.


Anonymous said...

What do we expect when a known and virtually convicted crook is put in place as a trade commissioner by the Government?

Steven_L said...

A nice little insight into what chips are on the table. We do a lot of whingeing about copyright mind you, yet police our borders ineffectively and fail to foster a sense of civil duty amongst our citizens about the wrongs of buying 'snides'.

CityUnslicker said...

Ken thanks - another reason to dislike the EU.

CityUnslicker said...

Hitch - well as much as I would like to agree with you, in a world of nation states this iinevitable!

CityUnslicker said...

Shot - Sad that Mandelson is our representative. I rerad the German press a fe wmonths ago on this and they were dismayed at his lack of qauaity.

CityUnslicker said...

Steven-L - you are quite right there is a need to reduce both supply and demand of counterfeit products. I think the 3rd world thought is still a much bigger factor for both sides of the equation than the UK.

James Higham said...

Naturally, this being my day job [or part of it] it's of interest. It's also a total non-starter. It's more like World Get the Max You Can Con Out of The Others and Don't Let Them Take You Down While You're Making Fine Noises talks.

The accommodation is good and the liquid refreshments a treat. A pleasant time jaw-wagging for all.

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