This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.
Talks meant to end disagreement over international trade failed to produce
results in Potsdam, Germany last week. The European Union and the United States
sought to find common ground with Brazil and India on several trade issues. The
group has become known as the G-Four in World Trade Organization negotiations.
But neither side could agree and talks ended last Friday, two days earlier than
Brazil and India have been seeking big cuts in aid provided to farmers
in industrial countries. The two nations have played the part of spokesmen for
many of the least developed nations in the 150-member W.T.O.
During the talks, the United States offered to limit farm aid, or subsidies,
to seventeen billion dollars a year. That is down from twenty-two billion
dollars offered in October of two thousand five. But Brazil wants the United
States to promise a bigger reduction in farm aid to below fifteen billion
dollars. Currently, American farmers receive a total of about eleven billion
dollars a year in subsidies.
Indian Trade Minister Kamal Nath blamed the United States' position on farm
aid for the failure of the talks. But India wants to protect twenty percent of
its farm product import taxes from all or most cuts. United States Agriculture
Secretary Mike Johanns said that would leave almost all of India's import taxes
An official at the talks said the EU offered to cut import taxes on its most
protected farm products by seventy percent. That is ten percentage points higher
than its proposal from October, two thousand five. Products considered
especially important would only receive subsidy cuts of twenty-three percent.
The Doha round of WTO negotiations started in November of two thousand
one. A main goal was for rich countries to reduce their farm subsidies on
important crops like cotton, sugar and corn. In return, developing countries
would reduce or end barriers to trade in goods and services from industrial
Now, negotiations of the Doha Round will have to continue in Geneva,
Switzerland. United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab said nations want
to reach agreement on the Doha development plan. But she admitted that
negotiations only among the G-Four nations may not be enough.
And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report. I'm Mario Ritter.