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Daily News

July 24, 2006

The Doha round of World Trade Organization talks was suspended indefinitely by WTO Director General Pascal Lamy today (July 24) after members failed once again to make any progress in bridging gaps on farm subsidies and agricultural market access. Members made no plans to meet again, and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab acknowledged it would not be possible to submit a deal to Congress under the current trade promotion authority law, which expires next summer.

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July 21, 2006

The European Union has not changed its position in the Doha round’s agriculture talks, and cannot agree to a formula for cutting tariffs that goes further than the proposal from the G-20 led by Brazil and India, an EU official said today.

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July 17, 2006

Trade ministers from the U.S. and five other World Trade Organization members have agreed at a meeting today (July 17) to gather again twice this month in Geneva in an effort to push the struggling WTO talks forward. The new meetings were agreed following the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, where World Trade Organization Director General Pascal Lamy warned that the talks were on the edge of failure.

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The House of Representatives will vote on legislation implementing the Oman Free Trade Agreement on Thursday (July 20), an aide to House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) said today (July 17).

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July 11, 2006

Oman’s government issued a royal decree on July 7 that a U.S. trade official described as significantly reforming that country’s labor laws, which have been criticized as too weak by House Democrats in advance of a floor vote on the U.S.-Oman FTA that is expected this month. The U.S. trade official said the royal decree shows Oman is serious about protecting labor rights and predicted the FTA would be approved by a “strong vote” in the House.

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July 07, 2006

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab this morning (July 7) insisted the only Doha deal the U.S. will accept is an ambitious one, and stressed that this requires a definition of how sensitive agriculture products will be treated so that members will know exactly how much market access they are to get. Schwab acknowledged the failure of ministers to make any progress last weekend in Geneva, but insisted it is still possible to conclude the Doha round before the expiration of U.S. fast-track authority next summer.

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July 01, 2006

GENEVA -- Talks among key trade ministers aimed at making a breakthrough in the Doha round this weekend have failed, and it is unclear this morning (July 1) if ministers will meet again at the end of July because of the stalemate apparent this week.

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GENEVA -- This weekend’s failure by key trade ministers to break the deadlock in the agriculture and non-agriculture negotiations means it will be nearly impossible to conclude the Doha round by the end of the year, according to sources close to the talks. The U.S. has said the negotiations must be concluded by that time in order to be considered by Congress without amendments under fast-track rules, which expire on July 1, 2007.

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June 30, 2006

GENEVA -- Within a day of starting their negotiations, ministers today (June 30) raised significant doubts about how much progress they could make on developing modalities for agriculture and non-agricultural market access this week. Given the lack of flexibility that countries have displayed in the informal talks, some officials have raised the possibility of ending negotiations early, according to Geneva sources.

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June 29, 2006

GENEVA -- Senior officials have agreed to a two-stage work plan by World Trade Organization Director General Pascal Lamy for ministers’ negotiations aimed at developing modalities for agricultural and industrial market access.

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June 28, 2006

On the eve of leaving for Geneva negotiations, U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab and Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns conveyed the strong message that they will not accept a deal that does not offset cuts in domestic farm subsidies with substantial market access gains.

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GENEVA -- World Trade Organization Director General Pascal Lamy today (June 28) publicly laid out what he considered the parameters of a possible Doha round deal on agriculture and non-agricultural market access that ministers could strike this week.

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GENEVA -- American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman has rejected as unacceptable to U.S. commodity groups a proposal for a possible agriculture market access deal floated by World Trade Organization Director General Pascal Lamy.

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June 26, 2006

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to consider the final version of the bill implementing the Oman Free Trade Agreement Wednesday (June 28), provided the Bush Administration is sending it to Congress as expected today (June 26).

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Peru’s congress is expected to approve legislation implementing a free trade agreement with the U.S. later this week, after two committees charged with overseeing the deal approved it last week, according to a Peruvian government official. If the congress acts as expected on June 28, Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo can sign the implementing legislation into law by next week, he said.

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June 23, 2006

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) today (June 23) said the House is likely to vote on legislation implementing the U.S.-Oman free trade agreement in July. But he said GOP leaders have yet to decide on the order for considering trade legislation with Peru and Vietnam.

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June 21, 2006

In the lead-up to next week’s Geneva ministerial meeting, the Bush Administration has scaled back its demands on how much agricultural market access a Doha round deal needs to produce, and is considering new U.S. concessions on domestic farm subsidies, according to informed sources. The decision on what would constitute an agriculture package politically acceptable in the U.S. was made after a meeting last week involving President Bush and cabinet-level officials including U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, they said.

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June 19, 2006

Mexican Minister of the Economy Sergio Garcia de Alba late last week signaled to U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab that he is cool to a U.S. proposal for a short-term bilateral deal that would match access for Mexican sugar exports in the U.S. with access for U.S. exports of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in Mexico.

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June 16, 2006

The first negotiating round for a free trade agreement between the U.S. and Malaysia this week saw the U.S. side stress the importance of market access for U.S. autos, while Malaysia made it clear that it wants more market access for its textiles and apparel, according to a U.S. trade official.

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June 13, 2006

A new market access paper distributed by the chairman of the Doha round agriculture talks late last week calls for World Trade Organization members to agree that the basis of their work will be reductions in bound tariffs, not the lower applied tariffs that members generally have in place.

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