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Trade Minister, WTO and European Trade Commissioner are disappointed with collapse of latest round of trade talks in Geneva.

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Tuesday 25 July 2006

Trade Minister, WTO and European Trade Commissioner are disappointed with collapse of latest round of trade talks in Geneva


TONY EASTLEY: The European Trade Commissioner is blaming the United States for the collapse of the latest round of global trade talks.  


Farm subsidies have again been the sticking point, with the US claiming Europe is dragging the chain on reaching a deal to cut the tariffs.  


The disagreement has left the two-day meeting in Geneva between ministers from six key trading nations in a shambles.  


Australia's Trade Minister, Mark Vaile, says it may take years before the negotiations resume.  


He's disappointed for Australian farmers and struggling producers in developing countries.  


Finance correspondent Andrew Geoghegan reports. 


ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: "A disaster," "a major setback," "a grave situation." 


These are just some of the comments from the major players who took part in the latest world trade talks in Geneva overnight. 


PASCAL LAMY: The consequences of this situation are grave. The most obvious consequence at this stage is that we will certainly not conclude the round this year. 


ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Pascal Lamy, the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, had been hoping that the Geneva talks could overcome the major differences between the 6 key players. 


But trade representatives from Australia, Brazil, the European Union, India, Japan and the United States failed to agree on reform measures and Lamy suspended the talks indefinitely. 


PASCAL LAMY: I think it's clear that we've missed a very important opportunity to prove that multilateralism works and that by working together, and working together is not an easy thing to do, the nations of this world can solve some of the serious problems that confront us. 


There is no winner and loser here. All of us today are losers. 


ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: The talks were the last hope to save the Doha round of negotiations launched 5 years ago, which aimed to remove trade barriers and boost living standards in developing countries. 


MARK VAILE: The greatest disappointment, I know, will be felt by the developing countries across the world.  


I mean, this multilateral system is the only hope they have of getting improved market access into developed country markets. 


ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Australia's Trade Minister, Mark Vaile, is extremely frustrated that years of work have failed to produce a positive outcome. 


MARK VAILE: Well, I'm very disappointed, obviously. I've put a lot of years of work into this, as have previous Australian ministers.  


It is very, very important to our agriculture industries and to our manufacturing industries to get better access into the markets of the world, and this is going to slow that process down of achieving that. 


ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: And the failure of trade negotiations is a big blow to Australian farmers. 


MARK VAILE: The people that are likely to be the most disappointed out of this are those groups - are our farmers, who have been looking for a fair go getting into the markets in the northern hemisphere, particularly the European market, where we are severely restricted as far as our access is concerned.  


Our farmers have been supporting us in fighting this case for a lot of years, and I'm sure that they will continue to do that. 


ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Meanwhile, the blame game is in full swing with the European Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, pointing the finger at the United States. 


PETER MANDELSON: In deciding to withhold any indication of their own future flexibility, the United States has judged that it would be better for the process of negotiation to be discontinued at this stage. 


ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: But the United States claims that it's Europe, which refuses to cut tariffs. 


TONY EASTLEY: Andrew Geoghegan.