Trade Talks This Year? Don't Bet On It

By John S. McClenahen Launching a new round of global trade talks yet this year under World Trade Organization (WTO) now has the support of the leaders of the world's eight most powerful industrial economies. That came last weekend (July 21-23) at the G8 summit in Okinawa. But there's no assurance that there will be agreement on even an agenda by yearend. For example, the U.S. and the 15-nation European Union (EU) remain far apart on a number of critical issues, including agricultural subsidies. Also, the Clinton Administration, as this November's presidential and congressional elections draw nearer, may be reluctant to expend political capital on what promise to be extremely controversial and contentious negotiations. What's more, agreement on a new trade round must involve more than a meeting of minds among the U.S., Canada, Japan, and the EU, the powerful "quad" of the G8. For instance, "there can be no launch of talks without support from the world's developing countries," stresses Mike Moore, WTO's director general.

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