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(Reuters) Cancun Trade Talks Collapse Over Rich-Poor Rift

Shades of Seattle... First World tries to issue marching orders to the Third World, Third says "No!"
Cancun Trade Talks Collapse Over Rich-Poor Rift
Sun September 14, 2003 04:40 PM ET

By Patrick Lannin and Richard Waddington

CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) - Trade talks in Mexico critical to the health of the world economy collapsed on Sunday after rich and poor states failed to bridge deep divisions over agriculture and investment rules, delegates said.

They said a meeting of key ministers broke up in disarray after developing countries rejected a demand by the 15-nation European Union for talks to start on global trade rules in investment and three other new areas.

"Talks have collapsed and there is no agreement," George Ongwen, a Kenyan delegate, told reporters.

The 146 members of the World Trade Organization had been hoping to find enough common ground in Cancun to inject fresh impetus into negotiations on a global trade pact for which they had set themselves a deadline of the end of next year.

Instead, the talks crumbled on Sunday afternoon.

Delegates could not agree how fast to dismantle $300 billion in subsidies that rich states pay their farmers or find a way round the EU's insistence that poor states begin talks on new rules on investment, competition, government procurement and cutting red tape that holds up trade.

"The conference has failed. There was no agreement," said Martin Redrado, Argentina's chief negotiator at the talks.

He said the failure meant the WTO would be unable to conclude a market-opening pact by the end of 2004 that the World Bank said would add as much as $520 billion to global incomes by 2015, lifting 144 million people out of poverty.

Rafidah Aziz, Malaysia's trade minister, blamed the failure of the talks on the refusal of rich countries to heed the objections of the developing world.

"They kept demanding things that others couldn't deliver," she said.

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What it means 14.Sep.2003 17:31

Mike stepbystpefarm <a> mtdata.com

The collapse will come a little bit sooner.

See, things like the WTO were attempts by the "developed" world to stave off the collapse of industrial civilization a little bit longer. As worldwide rresources are exhausted, they are not exhausted evenly, and some poor areas otherwise in collapse might still retain excesses of particualr resources useful elsewhere. Trade helps even that out, but the traders aren't interested in doing to for nothing, so unless they can make a buck, not worth it to them. As far as they are concenred, it's trade oportunities on their terms or nothing.

Some of these brave poor areas may be no worse off it trade breaks down. For others, it means the end will come a little bit sooner. If it isn't profitable for these rich outsiders to get at those last "extra" resources, then they won't bother propping up the infrastructures (only useful to THEM if trade is taking place). If the poor area collapses and people starve....well.

In other words, don't cheer TOO loud because this is going to get very bad. Those of you who imagine the poor areas are going to get help out of the goodness of the hearts of the rich --- well let's just say you don't know the rich very well. I'm not unhappy with the outcome, but then I'm an "environmental" type and would prefer the crash and die back of the human population to come while there are still excesses of resources left scattered ("trapped" in areas where the infrastructure has collapsed so they cannot be exrtracted) rather than being staved off a few more years (just a few) until everything is evenly destroyed everywhere by "trade". We're going to have a "die back", it's FAR too late to stop that no matter what we do. The only choices we have left is how and to what extent we can "make gentler" the process