Future Of Trade Liberalization Talks In Serious Doubt

Future of Trade Liberalization Talks in Serious DoubtUS textile manufacturers and cotton producers
were pleased with the September 14 collapse of World Trade Organization (WTO) trade liberalization
talks in Cancun, Mexico, but importers of textiles and apparel, and retailers said it was a serious
blow to consumers. As broad differences between the developed and developing nations surfaced and
cut the talks short, negotiators said the future of the WTOs Doha Round of trade liberalization
negotiations, due to be completed by January 2005, was in serious doubt.When the talks collapsed,
US Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick issued a bitter statement saying the US was prepared to
negotiate in good faith, but that other countries were not willing to work toward narrowing gaps in
their positions on trade.Zoellick said, Whether developed or developing, there were can do and wont
do countries here. The rhetoric of the wont do overwhelmed the concerted efforts of the can do. He
said that useful compromise must be reached during the remaining course of the overall talks if the
trade liberalization effort is to succeed.US textile and cotton representatives monitoring the
meetings were pleased to see the talks end in disarray. Robert W. Greene, chairman of the National
Cotton Council, accused African nations of trying to gut the US cotton programs. He said, It was a
testimony to our negotiators that they saw through the rhetoric and did not lose sight of the goals
of the WTO negotiations, namely, greater reciprocal trade liberalization. Greene warned that a bad
agreement would bring substantial damage to the entire US cotton industry.Auggie Tantillo,
Washington coordinator for the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, said that if the
talks had moved forward, the final result would have mandated further substantial reductions if not
total elimination of US tariffs in practically all manufacturing sectors. He said that as the talks
stalled it became evident the developing countries were demanding substantial concessions with
regard to market access without a willingness to provide equal reciprocity in terms of access to
their own markets. He said concessions offered by the US and Europe were not sufficient to satisfy
trade ministers from the developing countries, who, he said, were more interested in entitlements
to export more products to the developed countries rather than reciprocal market access.Cass
Johnson, interim president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, said the breakdown of
the talks renders the future of the Doha Round negotiations problematic. He said the proposed draft
document that was to serve as a guide for the negotiations contained loopholes benefiting
developing nations that would replace any notion of equity and reciprocity for all. With its
manufacturing sector experiencing major job losses, he said the US no longer is in any position to
just give, give, give anymore.US importers of textiles and apparel saw the collapse in a different
light. The National Retail Federation (NRF) issued a statement saying American consumers and
developing nations exporters are the real losers. Noting that a number of developing-nation trade
ministers said they would seek individual free trade agreements with the US in lieu of a WTO
agreement, NRF Senior Vice President of Government Relations Steve Pfister said free trade
agreements do not provide the developing countries with the kind of tariff-free access to the US
market that the multilateral process would have yielded. He said free trade agreements have rules
of origin that frequently erase any benefits of tariff elimination. Nonetheless, Pfister held out
the hope that the negotiations could be resumed and that WTO members could conclude the round of
negotiations successfully by the January 2005 deadline.By James A. Morrissey, Washington
September 2003