Trade: WTO Fervor Fizzles, While EU/U.S. Still Split

By John S. McClenahen Both of the major-party candidates in today's U.S. presidential election are pro-trade. But nearly a year after the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) were expected to launch a new round of global trade negotiations in Seattle, no such talks seem likely anytime soon. One reason, notes Pascal Lamy, the European Union's Commissioner for Trade, is that the same WTO members who a year ago were keen on getting a three-year bargaining round going quickly now "almost seem to be advocating waiting three years before we even launch." But continuing differences between the U.S. and the Europeans on a negotiating agenda are another factor. "Charlene Barshefsky [the U.S. Trade Representative] said the other day that she thought we are relatively close on most points. I'm not so sure; I fear that we are short of agreement on several issues," Lamy says. A negotiating agenda is not the only source of U.S.-EU disagreement. The Americans and Europeans, after more than a year, remain far apart on three bilateral issues: export tax incentives, bananas, and hormones in beef.

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