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WTO -The World's Still Watching- more euro-news



There's a hint of a suggestion that the subject of genetically manipulated
food (i.e. a compromise favouring the euro dislike of GM products)  was
near agreement ( between the europeans and U$) on Friday evening, but
not in a manner that could be swallowed by the U$ administration.

Cheers
MichaelP
====================== 
INDEPENDENT (London) 6 December 1999



U$ accused of sabotage in Seattle

By Andrew Marshall in Seattle

Recriminations over the collapse of world trade talks flew yesterday after
some European officials suggested the US deliberately sabotaged the summit
when it became clear other nations would not acquiesce to its demands.

Some US officials have also hinted at the same ugly situation after the
debacle in Seattle, where the four-day meeting of the World Trade
Organisation ended without agreement.

 The Americans apparently preferred to let the summit fail rather than try
to explain their failure to US unions and other interest groups, with an
election less than a year away.

American newspapers have begun to report the contrary charge - that the
meeting failed because the European Union would not compromise on
agriculture. This is belied by the fact that a deal on the table had
resolved most of the difficulties by early Friday evening. America had
mishandled the talks so there was insufficient time for many other key
issues, but at 6pm European officials said they were willing to carry on
into the next morning if it meant a successful end.

But by 8pm President Bill Clinton, Charlene Barshefsky, the US Trade
Representative, and White House officials Gene Sperling and John Podesta,
decided "the patient could not be resuscitated," the The New York Times
reported. The US said this was because other governments would not
compromise. But the agreement on the table was profoundly unsatisfactory
 to America.

A deal on labour standards - a critical issue and one that will affect the
election - was already a shell, outside the main WTO text, carrying no
policy implications and with the heavy hint of extra cash for developing
countries. Some developing nations wanted to push it even further into the
margins.

US officials were said to fear this would damage Vice-President Al Gore's
chances of re-election. John Sweeney, head of the AFL-CIO, America's
umbrella trade body, said after the meeting that no deal was better than
the agreement on the table.

Mr Clinton intervened, calling heads of state around the world, pushing
for American demands. He asked Japan to back away from its demands that
the US amend its controversial anti-dumping policy, which penalises
exporters to America, for instance.

Again, the deal on the table was a long way from America's agenda, as it
was on genetically modified food. These agreements were in part struck to
gain a deal on agriculture, making little sense of the claim that no
progress could be made.

European officials had been puzzled for most of the day that America was
failing to tackle many of the outstanding issues, and some speculated that
the US did not want agreement.

After the meeting, some said that they believed Ms Barshefsky had let the
deal collapse for political reasons. Others demurred, saying it was
incompetence, and not conspiracy.

=======================
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Monday, December 6 1:09 AM SGT

Middle East countries blame failure of WTO talks on developed countries

NICOSIA, Dec 5 (AFP) -

Middle East countries blamed the collapse of World Trade Organization
(WTO) talks in Seattle on the failure of industrialised heavy weights to
take on board the concerns of developing countries, newspaper editorials
said.

Regional observers hammered the United States in particular Sunday for
pursuing its own agenda with little respect for the needs and objectives
of poorer countries.

Even Emirati papers, whose country is a WTO member, conceded that more
careful preparation would be needed if further progress on globalisation
and the lowering of trade barriers was to be achieved in the future.

"The WTO can not be seen as an exclusive club, fit only for the rich and
developed countries. If the organisation is to succeed at all, then it
must take cognizance of the opinions of all member states," said the Gulf
News.

The Khaleej Times editorial meanwhile said the collapse was a blow to
Washington.

"The Clinton administration has suffered a major setback in its concept of
liberalising trade," it said.

Saudi Arabia, which is negotiating entry to the organisation, shadowed
this opinion.

"It is illogical that three quarters of the countries of the world should
be ready to embrace globalization when they know of the serious crises
that are preventing them from implementing the rules of free trade in the
next millennium," said the Saudi daily Al-Youm.

On the US-European rift, Saudi paper Al-Madina observed wryly: "In spite
of the inequality (between developed and developing countries), the
conflict of interest between Europe and the United States helped save, at
least for the time being, the lambs of international trade from the
foxes."

Jordan, another country negotiating entry to the group, said the breakdown
of talks sounded alarm bells for the developing world.

Tareq Massarwa, writing in the Al-Rai newspaper, said the failure of the
talks "compels us as Arabs to open up our eyes and remove from our minds
and hearts all trace of ignorance if we wish to ensure bread and butter
for our children so that they too can learn and live in peace."

Egypt's government-owned Al-Ahram paper blamed the collapse on a
North-South divide, adding: "The voice of Egypt came as a true expression
of the voice of the South when it called on the conference to rectify the
imbalance in rights and obligations."

It added that Cairo wanted "to correct the track of the world economic
system in general, and world trade in particular, with the aim of
achieving international cooperation between North and South, for the
welfare of all."

Israel's Jerusalem Post said the failure pointed up the strong
"differences of opinion over what our capitalist future will look like."

"The dream of a completely barrier-free world of trade will be postponed,"
it said, observing: "it appears that most countries are not yet ready to
give up on the protectionist measures dearest to various key sectors."

In the Middle East, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE - are
members of the WTO, while Oman and Saudi Arabia are negotiating entry.
North African members include Tunisia and Morocco.


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