World News: World Trade Talks Tank; South Africa, Like China, Wants No Prosecution of Sudan leaderJuly 30th, 2008
Talks break down over agricultural imports
Hopes of saving a world trade deal were dashed when the World Trade Organization (WTO) talks collapsed last night in Geneva , dealing a major blow to the global economy and raising questions over the worth of the WTO. The meeting was the last chance to strike a deal on cutting tariffs and subsidies in agriculture and manufactured goods before the U.S. presidential election in November. Talks collapsed when the main protagonists – the United States and India , with the latter supported by China and Indonesia – failed to reach a compromise on a measure to shield developing countries against massive agricultural import increases. South Africa ’s chief trade negotiator, Xavier Carim, said essential gains would be lost, which could have grave implications for the trading system and the WTO. Multilateral trade talks are likely to go into hibernation indefinitely as elections in the United States throw negotiating mandates into disarray, while a slowdown in the global economy already has dampened the appetite for further trade reforms. Carim said WTO chief Pascal Lamy had done “as much as he could have on the main issues. In the end this broke down on issues in agriculture.” He said the round’s ultimate direction had veered off the developmental route promised at the start of the talks seven years ago in Doha , Qatar . “We cannot be under any illusion that what was on the table was a package for very modest reforms in agriculture. The price South Africa was being asked to pay until the point of the collapse was just exorbitant, and not worth the gains,” he said. Trade ministers of the Group of Seven (G-7) bloc, consisting of Australia , Brazil , China , the European Union (EU), India , Japan and the United States , yesterday mulled over a new compromise text Lamy put forward on Monday. But the talks failed to break an impasse on a clutch of key issues, notably what is called the special safeguard measure, a mechanism to allow developing countries to increase tariffs on farm produce in the event of import surges or price collapses.
The east African country asks the U.N. to suspend al-Bashir’s indictment.
South Africa , supported by China , is trying to persuade the United Nations Security Council to suspend the attempt to prosecute Sudan ’s President Omar al-Bashir for genocide and war crimes in Darfur . The United States , while opposing South Africa ’s current efforts, has hinted that it might support the move if the Sudanese government makes concessions to help bring peace to the region, reports AllAfrica.com. This plan has emerged from briefings in Pretoria and New York over the past two days, the news agency says. The prosecutor of the newly established International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, asked the court two weeks ago to issue an arrest warrant for Bashir. The Security Council has the power, under the statute which established the court, to defer ICC investigations and prosecutions for a year at a time. South Africa ’s deputy foreign minister, Aziz Pahad, told a briefing on Sunday that he hoped the Security Council would “consider very seriously” the view of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council and the Arab League that the prosecution of Bashir would jeopardize peace efforts in Darfur . Pahad said the international community should deal with the issue “in a much better way that will not undermine the ICC and will enable us to deal with impunity in the broader context of reconciliation and finding solutions.” Speaking after Security Council consultations in New York on Monday, the U.S. representative at the U.N., Zalmay Khalilzad, said South Africa , supported by China and other countries, was trying to introduce the deferral of the prosecution into a resolution extending the mission of the U.N.-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). The United States believed this was “unwarranted,” he said, and the Security Council was divided on the issue. However, he left open the possibility of a deferral in future, saying “the situation is such that to move forward at this point … is premature. We think that there is more work to be done. …”